In the Kitchen

This edition of in the kitchen is all about fat, the most denigrated of all foods; wrongfully, shamefully, and even fraudulently in my opinion. The only problem with fat is this - we eat way too much of the wrong kind of fat. I refer to manufactured, adulterated fat as the wrong kind. We compound the problem by adding huge doses of sugar in all forms, but especially high fructose corn syrup.
 
Why do we need good fat? Let’s start with the fact that our brain and every cell in our body relies on fat for growth and good health. In a nutshell, that says it all. But let’s look further.
 
Fat is an essential nutrient that does all sorts of good things besides infusing our bodies with stuff it needs; fat also is a metabolizer of other nutrients that are ingested but otherwise lost for lack of a delivery mechanism - fat.
 
Where do you find all the good stuff that fat can provide - in grass-fed beef, pork and chicken of course. Consider the scorecard in this recent report from Clemson, and remember that the important Omega 3's and CLA’s reported are found only in the fat of the meat, not the lean:
 

Score Ten for Grass-Fed Beef 

Grass-fed beef is better for human health than grain-fed beef in ten different ways, according to the most comprehensive analysis to date. The 2009 study was a joint effort between the USDA and researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina. Compared with grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef was:

    1. Lower in total fat
    2. Higher in beta-carotene
    3. Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 
    4. Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
    5. Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
    6. Higher in total omega-3s
    7. A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84) 
    8. Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
    9. Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA) 
    10. Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease
 
While perusing techniques for rendering pork lard recently, I stumbled upon this
revelatory fact: the oils of rendered lard duplicates almost exactly - are you ready for
this? - the fat in mother’s milk!. How can that be bad? 
 
So, the question of whether properly raised fat is good or bad is being answered
affirmatively. What about fat as a reason for the problem of overweight Americans.
A visiting professor at Harvard, its School of Public Health, presented her findings which
were consistent with earlier though less controlled studies. Read all about it here and be
surprised: 
 

Low-carb more effective than low-fat:
Study: Greater weight loss for low-carb dieters even when they consume more calories than low-fat dieters.

By Alvin Powel Harvard News Office 

A Harvard School of Public Health study may stand dieting wisdom on its head, after low-carbohydrate dieters lost more weight than low-fat dieters despite eating 25,000 extra calories over a 12-week study period. 

The findings generated national attention after Penelope Greene, a visiting scholar in the School of Public Health's Nutrition Department, presented her research last week (Oct. 13) at the annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 

The study, conducted with Walter Willett, Nutrition Department chair and Fredrick Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, put three groups of dieters on different regimens. They included a low-fat group, a low-carbohydrate group that ate the same number of calories, and a third group on a similar low-carbohydrate plan that included 300 extra calories a day. 

Participants in all three groups lost weight, Greene said, with the low-fat group losing an average of 17 pounds and the low-carbohydrate group that ate the same number of calories losing 23 pounds. The biggest surprise, however, was that the low-carbohydrate dieters eating extra calories lost more than those on the low-fat diet. Participants in that low- carbohydrate group lost an average of 20 pounds. 

While participants in that third group were apparently able to eat more and lose more weight, Greene cautioned that the study was just a pilot for the larger study she had planned from the start and that she is preparing now. As a pilot, the groups were relatively small, containing just seven participants each. That means that despite the raw numbers, statistically the three groups lost about the same amount. 

But even that finding was notable because the higher-calorie, low-carbohydrate group was not expected to be the same as the other two. Conventional dietary wisdom indicates that the extra daily calories eaten by those in the third group - totaling 25,000 calories over the 12-week study - should equal about seven pounds, a difference that would have been statistically significant even in such small groups. "That third group convinces me there's something there worthy of further study," Greene said. 

"It seemed counterintuitive," Greene said. "How can you eat so much fat? The claim was that you can eat as much as you want as long as you keep the carbohydrates down." Though Greene's study didn't allow low-carbohydrate dieters to eat all they wanted, it still provided extra calories for that third group that, somehow, didn't translate into extra weight. While some have said her results defy laws of thermodynamics - since more calories should equal more weight, whatever the calories' source - Greene said the explanation is obviously more mundane. It has already been shown that it takes more energy to metabolize protein than carbohydrate, Greene said, and that may provide a small part of the answer. Other possibilities are that the body may absorb less of what's eaten in a low-carbohydrate diet, which is high in protein and in fat. Whatever the answer, she said, she's sure the laws of physics still apply. 

"I don't think for a minute that anything is violating the laws of thermodynamics," Greene said. "There's no 'smoke and mirrors' here."
 
Where will we end up on the question of what a proper and sustaining diet looks like?
Thomas Jefferson gave us the answer more than 200 years ago - eat all of the foods of the earth, as close to where you live as possible, in proper proportions and get the manufactured fats, oils and sugars out of your kitchen and car.
 
Eat well, live well, and celebrate your life. It’s what’s happening.
 
We appreciate you and will never take you for granted as we strive everyday to make food better.

JVF