Does Eating Meat Cause High Blood Pressure?

In yet another installment of my series examining the supposed health detriments of eating meat we move to the topic of high blood pressure. I’ve heard people claim that meat gives you high blood pressure (usually citing some epidemiological studies on vegetarians with low blood pressure to support it). Since high blood pressure is associated with and appears to play a role in cardiovascular disease, including stroke (1) this would be bad for the meat eaters. Well, let’s give a quick run through of some controlled trials to see how true this theory is. Continue reading

Monounsaturated Fat Versus Saturated Fat: Nutrition Cage Match

To my knowledge there exist no controlled dietary trials lasting long enough for us to know how swapping monounsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil) and saturated fats (e.g. butter) affects death from and incidence of various diseases. So once again let’s scope some suggestive short term findings: Continue reading

Saturated Fats and Omega-6 Rich Vegetable Oils on Risk of Death

I care about my health. And one important consideration when discussing health is death; dying really puts a damper on good health. So when I go to the grocery store and see a bottle of vegetable oil proudly stamped with a sticker about how healthy it is I wonder “Is that true?”. And when I read in a magazine about evil saturated fats I sometimes ask myself “Would replacing my butter and beef fat with corn and soybean oil reduce my chances of dying?”

Of course, extensive personal experience tells me that I would feel much crappier consuming the vegetable oils, but hey, maybe I would live longer?

I decided to examine long term controlled trials who’s only variable was pitting saturated fat against polyunsaturated fat (primarily the omega-6 variety found in vegetable oils). Let’s see what happened to mortality rates, shall we? Continue reading

Coconut Oil and Health Part 2: Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Disease

As I’ve already pointed out, coconut oil is almost entirely saturated fat and for this reason the Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, Department of Health and Human Services, American Dietetics Association, and American Heart Association advice against its consumption due to the effect of saturated fats on cholesterol levels. What a buzzkill for coconut lovers. Yet many defenders of coconut oil argue that the majority of saturated fats in coconut oil are of medium chain length, which produces a favorable effect on cardiovascular disease and CVD risk factors. So what are the effect of coconut oil on cholesterol levels? And more importantly, what does the scientific literature suggest about coconut oil and cardiovascular disease? Let’s find out. Continue reading

Is Saturated Fat Bad For Your Liver?

A few months ago a study titled “Effects of n−6 PUFAs compared with SFAs on liver fat, lipoproteins, and inflammation in abdominal obesity: a randomized controlled trial” was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This study compared the effects of polyunsaturated fat, in the form of sunflower oil, with saturated fat, in the form of butter on various markers of health. The results of this study seem to indicate that saturated fat produces higher insulin, higher levels of inflammatory mediators, a worse lipid profile, and greater accumulation of liver fat. Ouch.

Still, I think there are some problems with this study that weakens it as evidence that saturated fat is bad and polyunsaturated vegetable oils are good.  Continue reading