Friday, March 19, 2010

Saturated fat not intrinsically harmful?

I'm intending to start a series of posts reviewing articles that I found interesting from a selection of journals published in the first months of 2010.

Here is the first, from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2010, Vol. 91, No. 3, pp. 533-546.  Here's a link to the abstract:

The authors, Siri-Tarino et al., show via meta-analysis that saturated fat intake is not actually positively correlated with heart disease risk.

Rather, the more important issue is the ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fat in the diet.  Higher ratios are protective against heart disease.

The authors cite evidence that ingesting the same number of calories as carbohydrate instead of saturated fat actually increases the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack).

With respect to nutritional behaviour for optimal physical and mental health, I return again to the recommendation that there be a balance which includes adequate fat, carbohydrate, and protein as dietary macronutrients.  Saturated fat need not be excluded or avoided, but should be balanced by a more abundant intake of non-saturated fats.

In a separate article, the same authors recommend maintaining balanced dietary fat intake, but avoiding refined carbohydrate in the diet:

In my opinion, adequate dietary carbohydrates are very important for brain health, as I believe low-carb ketotic diets are hard on the brain.  Complex carbohydrates, with a lower glycemic index, are preferable. 


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this entry Dr. Kroeker.

I have a question regarding complex carbohydrates.

I have been trying to get my complex carbs from whole grains (and fiber) but I'm overwhelmed by all the information, having difficulty balancing good versus bad.
For instance, I have tried to look up good cereals. I try to get several grams of fiber and fair amount of complex carbs but cereals or other whole grain snacks (pre-packaged ones) also contain so many other chemicals (which I can not understand), large amount of salt and sugar.

I purchased a blueberry whole grain snack because I am up late at night and need to eat something small before bed but some people online had commented that the blueberry wasn't real blueberry, warned about added artificial flavor and sugar (which is apparently worse than normal sugar) etc etc.

Unfortunately I can not find a particular brand name snack or cold breakfast cereal that is healthy "enough" and I was hoping you could provide some insight and information that people with less education can understand.

I am not opposed to eating fruits but even fruits have lost their taste and I can't afford organic. I've bought some fig newtons but they leave a sour taste in my mouth...

Thank you for your help

GK said...

It is desirable to consume foods with a low "glycemic index."

Here's a link showing a glycemic index chart, from the Canadian Diabetes Association:

Another excellent cereal food with complex carbs and a low glycemic index is quinoa.

I have yet to find a very healthy snack food bar. Even the organic ones are loaded with sugar.

A good snack could be something like a slice of sprouted-whole grain bread or toast with some becel margarine or peanut butter and/or a tiny dab of jam (just enough to taste).

Anonymous said...


why "sprouted" whole grain bread?

I recently purchased some Triscuit crackers that contain whole grain but I read in a Weight Watchers blog that all cold cereal undergo some process called extrusion that destroys much of the nutrition in the grain.

So now I'm not sure what to buy to snack on?

GK said...

Various health claims are made about sprouted grains. I suppose it is true, and perhaps desirable, that it involves less industrial processing. But the more relevant fact, as far as I'm concerned, is that sprouted grain products have a lower glycemic index.