Tag Archives: fatty acids

Inuit | The Paleo Diet

The Inuit have long been used as a shining example that low carbohydrate approaches to diet can work.1 2 3 4 In fact, traditionally they consumed very little vegetables or any other typically Western foods, and subsisted mainly on fish, sea mammals, and land animals.5 And despite this diet (which would horrify most mainstream dieticians) the Inuit traditionally had very low rates of disease.6

By contrast, the traditional Western diet has been correlated with a plague of health issues.7 8 9 As a further example of just how nutritionally poor the Western diet can be, one third of all cancer deaths have been linked to continued intake of low quality foods – which are everyday staples of the Western diet.10

Interestingly, when consumed in a very low carbohydrate version, a Paleo Diet looks very similar – if not identical – to the traditional Inuit diet. Since this way of eating is higher in fat than most North American diets, it is commonly presumed (erroneously) that high fat diets must somehow be “bad.”11 12 What gets (purposely) left out of these arguments is the fact that the type of fat consumed is very important.13 14 15 16 17 Consuming omega-3 fatty acids is highly beneficial for health – while consuming industrial trans fat is pretty much the worst thing you can do for your health.18

To bring all this background knowledge to a head, new research published last week, showed that the Inuit have special mutations in genes involved in fat metabolism.19 These genetic mutations may allow them to thrive on their very low carbohydrate diet. This is thought provoking because these genetic mutations are found in nearly 100% of the Inuit. By contrast, only a mere 2% of Europeans exhibit the same mutations. This means that those of us from European ancestry may synthesize omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids differently than the Inuit.

While the initial buzz of this paper was high, in practice it really doesn’t change anything we know about consuming a healthy Paleo Diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in wild-caught fish, are still extremely beneficial for our health. In fact, researchers have found that omega-3 fatty acids have widely beneficial anti-inflammatory properties.20 This proves beneficial for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, in addition to maintaining good health for those without specific health conditions. The advice to consume omega-3 fatty acids is great for mitigating coronary heart disease, depression, aging, and cancer.21

Beyond this, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and lupus erythematosis are autoimmune diseases which may be helped by adequate omega-3 consumption.22 Of the omega-3 fatty acids available, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is the best, for a variety of reasons.23 24 Look for foods naturally high in DHA (such as wild-caught fish) and avoid inflammatory seed oils – like those commonly used by most major restaurants. This crucial step will help you stay healthy in the long term – no matter what genes and ancestry you may have.

REFERENCES

[1] Dewailly E, Mulvad G, Sloth pedersen H, Hansen JC, Behrendt N, Hart hansen JP. Inuit are protected against prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003;12(9):926-7.

[2] Bjerregaard P, Dewailly E, Young TK, et al. Blood pressure among the Inuit (Eskimo) populations in the Arctic. Scand J Public Health. 2003;31(2):92-9.

[3] Mulvad G, Pedersen HS, Hansen JC, et al. The Inuit diet. Fatty acids and antioxidants, their role in ischemic heart disease, and exposure to organochlorines and heavy metals. An international study. Arctic Med Res. 1996;55 Suppl 1:20-4.

[4] O’keefe JH, Harris WS. From Inuit to implementation: omega-3 fatty acids come of age. Mayo Clin Proc. 2000;75(6):607-14.

[5] Kuhnlein HV. Nutrition of the Inuit: a brief overview. Arctic Med Res. 1991;Suppl:728-30.

[6] Stefansson V. The friendly arctic. The MacMillan Co, NY. 1921.

[7] Manzel A, Muller DN, Hafler DA, Erdman SE, Linker RA, Kleinewietfeld M. Role of “Western diet” in inflammatory autoimmune diseases. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2014;14(1):404.

[8] Myles IA. Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity. Nutr J. 2014;13:61.

[9] Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002;56(8):365-79.

[10] American Cancer Society. Cancer facts & figures 2004. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, 2004.

[11] Guldstrand MC, Simberg CL. High-fat diets: healthy or unhealthy?. Clin Sci. 2007;113(10):397-9.

[12] Schwingshackl L, Hoffmann G. Comparison of effects of long-term low-fat vs high-fat diets on blood lipid levels in overweight or obese patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113(12):1640-61.

[13] Abumrad NA, Piomelli D, Yurko-mauro K, Merrill A, Clandinin MT, Serhan CN. Moving beyond “good fat, bad fat”: the complex roles of dietary lipids in cellular function and health: session abstracts. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(1):60-8.

[14] Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and in growth and development. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991;54(3):438-63.

[15] Daley CA, Abbott A, Doyle PS, Nader GA, Larson S. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutr J. 2010;9:10.

[16] Loef M, Walach H. The omega-6/omega-3 ratio and dementia or cognitive decline: a systematic review on human studies and biological evidence. J Nutr Gerontol Geriatr. 2013;32(1):1-23.

[17] Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(1):1-7.

[18] Ip C. Review of the effects of trans fatty acids, oleic acid, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid on mammary carcinogenesis in animals. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997;66(6 Suppl):1523S-1529S.

[19] Fumagalli M, Moltke I, Grarup N, et al. Greenlandic Inuit show genetic signatures of diet and climate adaptation. Science. 2015;349(6254):1343-7.

[20] Wall R, Ross RP, Fitzgerald GF, Stanton C. Fatty acids from fish: the anti-inflammatory potential of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(5):280-9.

[21] Harris WS, Dayspring TD, Moran TJ. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: new developments and applications. Postgrad Med. 2013;125(6):100-13.

[22] Robinson DR, Knoell CT, Urakaze M, et al. Suppression of autoimmune disease by omega-3 fatty acids. Biochem Soc Trans. 1995;23(2):287-91.

[23] Horrocks LA, Yeo YK. Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Pharmacol Res. 1999;40(3):211-25.

[24] Conquer JA, Holub BJ. Dietary docosahexaenoic acid as a source of eicosapentaenoic acid in vegetarians and omnivores. Lipids. 1997;32(3):341-5.

Omega-3 vs. Omega-6: Rethinking the Hypothesis

When you’re eating a meal, you’re probably not thinking about macronutrients, like carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The vast majority of individuals following a Western diet aren’t consciously thinking is this food essential to the human body? It is important to note, however, that while there is no such thing as an “essential carbohydrate,”1 there are “essential fats.”2 Essential in the sense that the human body cannot make these fats endogenously,3 and therefore, must be obtained via diet or supplementation.4 Within the class of essential fats, we have omega-3, which has different forms such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (E’PA).5 However, omega-3 is more commonly known to the general populace as “fish oil.”

Omega 3 fatty acids are long chain in structure and found in a variety of foods.6 The action of these long chain fatty acids is commonly called “anti-inflammatory,” though this is a misnomer.7 They are simply less inflammatory than omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 FAs and omega-6 FAs compete for the same enzyme to eventually be converted into anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (PGE3) and less inflammatory leukotrienes and into pro-inflammatory prostaglandins (PGE2) and more inflammatory leukotrienes, respectively.8 This paper then goes on to declare, it is the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 that is vital to reduce or promote the overall inflammatory state of the body.9,10,11 When we look to the habits of hunter-gatherers, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 has been estimated at 2:1 or 3:1.12 This is in contrast to the modern diet, which has been estimated at 10:1, or even 25:1.13

With this evidence, it is assumed that emulating the ratio of hunter-gatherers is correct, if we want to improve bio-markers of health.14 Certainly the theory that an inflammatory diet, full of omega-6 rich vegetable oils and very little omega-3 would likely lead to health problems, makes basic sense.15 However, newer research suggests both omega-6 and omega-3 FAs reduce the risk of heart disease, and the ratio of these fatty acids is “not useful and can be misleading.”16 One study reported that omega-6 FAs do not inhibit the beneficial effects of omega-3 FAs, and the combination of both fatty acids leads to the greatest reduction in levels of inflammation.17

However, the real issue here is that omega-3 FAs bind to G coupled-protein receptors, and cause broad anti-inflammatory effects.18 If you remove the omega-3 FAs from your diet, inflammation returns. This means that adequate omega-3 intake alone, regardless of omega-6 intake, is enough to stop inflammation in the body. The same is apparent when you look at the biochemical pathway of omega-6 and omega-3 FAs. They compete for the same enzyme19 through a process known as competitive inhibition.20

The best method of action to pursue, is to simply follow a Paleo Diet and eat plenty of fish rich in omega-3. If you want to avoid dietary intake of omega-3, and obtain the requirements solely from a supplement, DHA is preferable to all other forms of omega-3, since it can be retro converted into EPA.21 Only in the context of a very inflammatory diet (like the standard Western diet) does the ratio of omega-3 to 6 matter. Another case where the ratio would be of utmost importance, is if you aren’t getting any omega-3 FAs at all. This isn’t to say that the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is completely irrelevant, but if you’re consuming a Paleo Diet, you will likely be getting the right amounts of these essential fatty acids for optimal health.

References

1. Westman EC. Is dietary carbohydrate essential for human nutrition?. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;75(5):951-3.

2. Insel, Paul. Nutrition: Custom Edition. 4th Edition. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2010; 182.

3. Chang CY, Ke DS, Chen JY. Essential fatty acids and human brain. Acta Neurol Taiwan. 2009;18(4):231-41.

4. Singh M. Essential fatty acids, DHA and human brain. Indian J Pediatr. 2005;72(3):239-42.

5. Wainwright PE. Dietary essential fatty acids and brain function: a developmental perspective on mechanisms. Proc Nutr Soc. 2002;61(1):61-9.

6. Meyer BJ, Mann NJ, Lewis JL, Milligan GC, Sinclair AJ, Howe PR. Dietary intakes and food sources of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Lipids. 2003;38(4):391-8.

7. Foitzik T, Eibl G, Schneider P, Wenger FA, Jacobi CA, Buhr HJ. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases anti-inflammatory cytokines and attenuates systemic disease sequelae in experimental pancreatitis. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2002;26(6):351-6.

8. Macsai MS. The role of omega-3 dietary supplementation in blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction (an AOS thesis). Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 2008;106:336-56.

9. Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002;56(8):365-79.

10. Gómez candela C, Bermejo lópez LM, Loria kohen V. Importance of a balanced omega 6/omega 3 ratio for the maintenance of health: nutritional recommendations. Nutr Hosp. 2011;26(2):323-9.

11. Simopoulos AP. The omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio, genetic variation, and cardiovascular disease. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:131-4.

12. Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastian A, et al. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(2):341-54.

13. Yan L, Bai XL, Fang ZF, Che LQ, Xu SY, Wu D. Effect of different dietary omega-3/omega-6 fatty acid ratios on reproduction in male rats. Lipids Health Dis. 2013;12:33.

14. Apte SA, Cavazos DA, Whelan KA, Degraffenried LA. A low dietary ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 Fatty acids may delay progression of prostate cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2013;65(4):556-62.

15. Kang JX, Liu A. The role of the tissue omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in regulating tumor angiogenesis. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2013;32(1-2):201-10.

16. Anton SD, Heekin K, Simkins C, Acosta A. Differential effects of adulterated versus unadulterated forms of linoleic acid on cardiovascular health. J Integr Med. 2013;11(1):2-10.

17. Pischon T, Hankinson SE, Hotamisligil GS, Rifai N, Willett WC, Rimm EB. Habitual dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids in relation to inflammatory markers among US men and women. Circulation. 2003; 108(2): 155-160.

18. Oh DY, Talukdar S, Bae EJ, et al. GPR120 is an omega-3 fatty acid receptor mediating potent anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing effects. Cell. 2010;142(5):687-98.

19. Babcock TA, Novak T, Ong E, Jho DH, Helton WS, Espat NJ. Modulation of lipopolysaccharide-stimulated macrophage tumor necrosis factor-alpha production by omega-3 fatty acid is associated with differential cyclooxygenase-2 protein expression and is independent of interleukin-10. J Surg Res. 2002;107(1):135-9.

20. Oleñik A, Mahillo-fernández I, Alejandre-alba N, et al. Benefits of omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplementation on health-related quality of life in patients with meibomian gland dysfunction. Clin Ophthalmol. 2014;8:831-6.

21. Conquer JA, Holub BJ. Dietary docosahexaenoic acid as a source of eicosapentaenoic acid in vegetarians and omnivores. Lipids. 1997;32(3):341-5.

Nuts | The Paleo Diet

Do you find yourself having difficulty shedding weight on your Paleo regime? Or perhaps you’re still experiencing GI distress or frequent breakouts even though you’ve cut out the gluten, the dairy and the legumes.

Too many nuts, or the wrong type of nuts could be causing the problem.

Nuts can indeed be a part of the Paleo Diet when eaten in moderation: “in moderation” being the key takeaway message.

Since nuts are high in inflammatory Omega-6 and low in anti-inflammatory Omega-3, they should be regarding more as a garnish than a regular, go-to source of dietary fat.

The fats we should rely on regularly are raw avocados, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, as well as the fats we find with our protein sources, like wild salmon or the occasional fattier cut of grass fed meat, like a nice rib-eye.

Are All Nuts Created Equal?

Not at all.

We must factor in not only the type of nut, but also how the nut might be processed.

  • Raw, sprouted nuts are best, whereas you should steer clear of those found in large canisters, roasted in peanut oil. By soaking nuts and allowing them to sprout, we can reduce the amount of phytates we consume when we eat a handful of them with an apple as a snack, for example.
  • Surprisingly, almonds, which we see in abundance in many forms and varieties, have one of the worst Omega 3:6 ratios, with virtually no detectable Omega-3s!
  • Walnuts, Macadamias and Brazil Nuts, however, rank as the top three in their ratio which is more favorable, but still not ideal.

Don’t make the common mistake of buying a huge vat of nuts and bringing them to the office to “snack on” throughout the day. Far too often this ends in too many calories, an unbalanced macronutrient profile and an upset stomach.

How many nuts are too many nuts?

Simply put, if you’re eating any nuts more often than as the occasional garnish, it may be too much. Because they’re easy to purchase, easy to eat and require zero preparation, many people make the mistake of making them their go-to snack for the office or home, and end up consuming hundreds of extra calories each day without even realizing it.

But why are some nuts ok, but not some grains or some legumes?

It comes down to portion sizes and frequency. We’re only meant to be eating a small portion, as a garnish, on occasion, whereas with pasta, bread or bagels, the amount eaten in the typical Standard American Diet is closer to cupfuls.

A good example of how many nuts to eat might include a tablespoon of raw walnuts on a salad or a handful of raw almonds with an apple, some sliced turkey and spinach made into a wrap a couple times per week is the way to go.

Eating a vat of salted nuts, roasted in peanut oil that you purchased on sale at Costco each week is the wrong approach.

Are Nuts for Everyone?

Certain populations may need to be even more careful with nuts, such as those with autoimmune conditions. While some can tolerate nuts and seeds others cannot. The best approach is to go nut-free for a month on top of the standard Paleo Diet and then test to see if you react.

Storing

Because of their high fat content, nuts kept in the freezer can be eaten in that state. They won’t freeze into a rock-solid piece of ice the way a piece of lean chicken or veggies would.

Rather than following the budget friendly strategy of buying in bulk, only to find that two pound bag of organic raw walnuts still sitting in your cupboard two months later and not tasting so great, keeping them in the freezer proves to be cost-effective too, as nothing will spoil and go to waste.

For an easy to make treat, rinse, then freeze some organic grapes or a sliced banana. Paired with a handful of macadamias and topped with a dash of cinnamon and ginger, this makes an incredibly decadent “something sweet” way to finish a meal, far more representative of True Paleo than any treat.

Zero processing and loads of flavor is the way to go.

For a special occasion, create the decadent Raw Chocolate Covered Walnuts with Berries.

Verdict on Monounsaturated Fats | The Paleo Diet

If SFA (saturated fatty acids) are bad for us then why does our body store excess calories that way?

Saturated fat consumption was likely unrestricted among ancient hunter gatherer populations. For the purpose of efficiency and conservation, entire animals would be consumed.

The USDA and other major government nutrition advocates claim that excess saturated fat intake will lead to exceedingly high cholesterol levels and coinciding health problems. Currently, there are no confirmed studies demonstrating the correlation of increased saturated fat intake with a higher risk for cardiovascular mortality. Saturated fat intake might increase LDL cholesterol initially, but it produces protective HDL cholesterol simultaneously.

The Inuit people of North America subsist on a diet that is extremely high in saturated fats, and the majority of the population does not exhibit cardiovascular diseases. The body does indeed store excess carbohydrates as saturated fat, but this is simply for the purpose of future energy expenditure. Saturated fat should not be feared, and is a vital fatty acid for maintaining consistent energy levels while following a Paleo lifestyle.

Bottom line: Saturated fats should be consumed in moderation along with other leaner cuts of meat.

Kyle Cordain
The Paleo Diet Team

There has been extensive debate within the Paleo community recently surrounding the validity of certain cooking oils while following The Paleo Diet.

Hunter-gatherers would have not had access to most cooking oils available to modern society. That being said, animal fats were likely consumed and used as a substitute for cooking oils that are commonly consumed today. Grilling eliminates the need for cooking with oil in pans, but grilling food for every meal is not very realistic for the average individual following a contemporary Paleo Diet.

However, there are a number of common cooking oils that should never be consumed while following The Paleo Diet. These include:

  • Soybean Oil: Often partially hydrogenated and is highly inflammatory due to the disproportionately high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Canola Oil: Derived from the unpalatable rapeseed plant, the oil is stripped of erucic acid to make it edible. Canola oil is often praised for its omega-3 content, but health practitioners often fail to account for the quick degradation of omega-3 fatty acids within the oil due to the 500 degree temperature that is required to manufacture the oil.
  • Cottonseed Oil: Derived from an inedible plant that is used in the textile industry, the oil is used in numerous processed foods including margarine, ice cream, bread, and packaged oysters. As with Canola, Cottonseed also has an unhealthy fatty acid profile and should be avoided at all costs.

Other cooking oils to avoid for rancidity, inflammatory properties, and an unbalanced fatty acid profile:

  • Safflower Oil
  • Sunflower Seed Oil
  • Sesame Seed Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Vegetable OilGrape Seed Oil
Despite the overwhelming majority of unhealthy oils that are available for purchase at your average grocery store, there is still hope! Swap out the bad for the oils permitted when following The Paleo Diet.

  • Olive Oil: Fantastic for sauteing and as a salad dressing. It is fairly resistant to high heat, which makes it less prone to rancidity. It primarily consists of monounsaturated fats, which are considered safe and healthy.
  • Coconut Oil: While the tropical, shelf-stable oil is relatively high in saturated fats, the saturated fat content should not be a concern and allows for the oil to remain stable at high temperatures. Coconut oil is also very rich in a medium chain fatty acid known as Lauric Acid, which is recognized for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
  • Animal Fat: Realistically, this is the closest to a hunter-gatherer cooking fat or oil. Grass-fed beef tallow is preferred. Duck fat is also allowed. However, be careful when consuming fat from pork or chicken, as both contain significantly higher quantities of polyunsaturated fats.

Although there are numerous toxic and potentially lethal species of mushroom species, you should not be worried about consuming the mushrooms you find at your choice grocer. In all likelihood, our hunter-gatherer ancestors likely indulged in various types of mushrooms on a semi-regular basis, knowing the distinct properties to exclude poisonous species. Mushrooms are also relatively low on the glycemic index and are rich in selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin – all optimal for your health. Let the mushroom hunting adventures ensue!

Kyle Cordain
The Paleo Diet Team

Mushroom Sauté

Cooking Oils | The Paleo Diet

3 – 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced thin
  • ½ sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 2 leaves fresh basil finely chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced, stem removed
  • Grass-Fed Beef or Buffalo Steaks

Directions

1. In large fry pan, saute onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until onions are tender.

2. Stir in mushrooms and remaining ingredients.

3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Serve over fresh grass-fed beef or buffalo steaks.

Grain Brain

Hi Loren,

I was hoping I could induce you to correct a statement made about your work in a recent post in The Atlantic. It’s by a senior editor, a medical doctor, James Hamblin, who’s doing a take-down of Perlmutter’s Grain Brain couched as a piece of journalism. In it he quotes David Katz of Yale, commenting about the paleolithic diet and your work.

I thought perhaps you could take a little time to set both Hamblin and maybe even Katz right. The key section:

“Of course,” Katz added, “Everything about the Paleolithic Era is subject to debate. Most of us don’t know what we had for breakfast yesterday, let alone what people were doing 100,000 years ago. Yeah, I’ve read the same thing that the average life expectancy was between 20 and 40 and, consequently, the diseases of old age didn’t happen because old age didn’t happen. There’s nothing about their diet that we know to be protective against things like Alzheimer’s. That’s just silly.”

Perlmutter has estimated that the Stone Age diet was 75 percent fat, a claim Katz finds “wildly preposterous.” Anthropological research, he pointed out the work of Loren Cordain, suggests that in the age before cooking oil, humans ate mostly plants with a scattering of seeds and nuts. “Virtually nothing in the natural world is that concentrated of a fat source, except maybe for the brain. Maybe if they just ate the brains of animals? They didn’t have oil. They only started adding oil to the diet after the Dawn of Agriculture. What the hell could they possibly have eaten that would be that fatty?'”

This kind of journalism is bad enough when they get the facts vaguely right and just spin them to fit their biases. When they butcher the facts, too, it deserves correcting.

All the best,

Gary Taubes

Gary Taubes is the author of Why We Get Fat (2011), Nobel Dreams (1987), Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion (1993), and Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007), which is titled The Diet Delusion in the UK. He has won the Science in Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers three times and was awarded an MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellowship. Taubes studied applied physics at Harvard and aerospace engineering at Stanford (MS, 1978). Taubes has written numerous articles for Discover, Science and other magazines. Originally focusing on physics issues, his interests have more recently turned to medicine and nutrition.

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Hi Gary,

Good to hear from you.  Thanks for forwarding me the article from The Atlantic by James Hamblin, MD. on Perlmutter’s Grain Brain. I came away with a number of impressions:

1.  Both Katz and Perlmutter acknowledge the underlying, evolutionary basis for human nutrition.

2.  Scientists involved in gluten research and Paleo Diets (including myself) were not directly interviewed in this article.  This omission likely fuels Hamblin’s perspective and does not provide equal input for both sides of the argument.

3.  I was not interviewed for this article and the quote you cite below is not mine, but rather appears to be David Katz’s interpretation of our work.  The quote is erroneous as well as being just flat out wrong.  Our group has repeatedly analyzed the composition and macronutrient content of historically studied hunter gatherer diets.1-7 Animal fat has been an integral part of hominid diets since the origins of our genus Homo.  To correct whomever wrote the erroneous quote below, regardless of whether fat comes from either plant or animal food sources, it contains identical caloric densities (9 kcal/g).  In the typical hunter gatherer diet, animal fat would have generally exceeded plant fat on an average daily basis.

Brain contains virtually no fat, but rather is comprised primarily of fatty acids bound to the phospholipid fraction.  A fat (triglyceride) is also technically called an acylglycerol (a glycerol molecule bound to a fatty acid [acyl group] via an ester bond).   Brain contains little or no acylglycerol, but rather structural fatty acids found not in the triglyceride fraction, but in the phospholipids fraction.   There is no doubt that brain, marrow and other fatty (and fatty acid) portions of wild animal carcasses would have been preferred by our hunter gatherer ancestors over lean meats.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor

 

REFERENCES

1. Cordain L, Brand Miller J, Eaton SB, Mann N, Holt SHA, Speth JD. Plant to animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000, 71:682-92.

2. Cordain L, Eaton SB, Brand Miller J, Mann N, Hill K. The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets: Meat based, yet non-atherogenic. Eur J Clin Nutr 2002;56 (suppl 1):S42-S52.

3. Cordain L, The nutritional characteristics of a contemporary diet based upon Paleolithic food groups. J Am Neutraceut Assoc 2002; 5:15-24.

4. Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastian A, Mann N, Lindeberg S, Watkins BA, O’Keefe JH, Brand-Miller J. Origins and evolution of the western diet: Health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:341-54.

5. Cordain L. Saturated fat consumption in ancestral human diets: implications for contemporary intakes. In: Phytochemicals, Nutrient-Gene Interactions, Meskin MS, Bidlack WR, Randolph RK (Eds.), CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group), 2006, pp. 115-126.

6. Ramsden CE, Faurot KR, Carrera-Bastos P, Sperling LS, de Lorgeril M, Cordain L. Dietary fat quality and coronary heart disease prevention: a unified theory based on evolutionary, historical, global and modern perspectives. Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med; 2009;11:289-301.

7. Kuipers RS, Luxwolda MF, Janneke Dijck-Brouwer DA, Eaton SB, Crawford MA, Cordain L, Muskiet FA. Estimated macronutrient and fatty acid intakes from an East African Paleolithic diet. Brit J Nutr , 2010 Dec;104(11):1666-87.

Chia Seeds | The Paleo Diet

Hello Dr. Cordain,

Are there any negative effects associated with chia seeds which would make them inappropriate in The Paleo Diet?

Thank you.

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Good question. I would imagine that many of our readers have never even heard of chia seeds much less eaten them. Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) are a member of the Labiatae plant family and are native to southern Mexico and northern Guatemala. The seeds are small, oval shaped; either black or white colored and resemble sesame seeds. These seeds were cultivated as a food crop for thousands of years in this region by the Aztecs and other native cultures. Chia seeds can be consumed in a variety of ways including roasting and grinding the seeds into a flour known as Chianpinolli which can then become incorporated into tortillas, tamales, and various beverages. The roasted ground seeds were traditionally consumed as a semi-fluid mucilaginous gruel (Pinole) when water is added to the flour. In post-Columbian times the most popular use of chia flour was to make a refreshing beverage in which the ratio of seeds to water is decreased, thereby resulting in a less gelatinous consistency to which lemon, sugar or fruit juice are added. The sticky consistency of chia seed Pinole or chia beverages comes from a clear mucilaginous, polysaccharide gel that remains tightly bound to the seeds. This sticky gel forms a physical barrier which may impair digestion and absorption of fat from the seed while also causing a low protein digestibility.

In the past 20 years a revival of interest in chia seeds has occurred primarily because of their high fat content of about 25-39% by weight, of which 50-57% is the therapeutic omega-3 fatty acid and alpha linolenic acid (ALA). In the past 10 years chia seeds have been used as a foodstuff for animals to enrich their eggs and meat with omega-3 fatty acids. So I wholeheartedly approve of feeding chia seeds to animals and then eating the omega-3 fatty acid enriched meat or eggs of these animals.

How about feeding chia seeds to humans – should we consume chia seeds because of their high omega-3 fatty acid (ALA) content? The Table below shows the entire nutrient profile of chia seeds. At least on paper, it would appear that chia seeds are a nutritious food that is not only high in ALA, but also is a good source of protein, fiber, certain B vitamins, calcium, iron and manganese.

Unfortunately, the devil is always in the details…

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Coconuts | The Paleo Diet

In my newest book, The Paleo Answer, I provide an in-depth discussion on coconut oil. It is extremely high in a saturated fat called lauric acid which scientifically is labeled 12:0, meaning that it is a fatty acid that contains 12 carbon atoms and no double bonds. At one time, many scientists and nutritionists thought that it was unhealthful and promoted atherosclerosis because it raised total blood cholesterol. However, more recent studies show that it actually improves the total blood lipid profile because it also raises HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol. As the total HDL ratio improves, and if it displaces refined carbohydrates, then it reduces triglycerides and small dense LDL, which also reduce the risk for CVD (cardiovascular disease). Studies of traditional societies living in Pacific islands who consume coconuts for their entire lives appear to be free of CVD, but when they begin to “westernize,” this freedom disappears. So, the best information suggests that coconut oil when consumed without western foods (refined sugars, grains, processed foods, etc.) is a healthful oil.

Lauric acid (12:0) appears to be good for gut health because it has antimicrobial activity which promotes healthy gut bacteria and may help to prevent a leaky gut. Further, since lauric acid has a medium chain length, it is relatively stable during cooking and tends not to breakdown with higher heats. Granted, it contains little polyunsaturated fats and no omega-3 fatty acids, but if the diet is balanced and contains meat and fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring), seafood, grass produced meats and free ranging eggs, the omega-3 fatty acid balance should not be adversely affected by coconut oil.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Prostate Cancer Omega-3 | The Paleo Diet

By now you’re all familiar with the study published online by Brasky et al. in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute entitled, “Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the SELECT Trial.” It was widely publicized in the mass media, showing an increased risk of prostate cancer for men with higher vs lower omega-3 blood levels. Dr. James H O’Keefe, world renowned cardiologist and Director of the Preventive Cardiology Program at Saint Luke’s, colleague, and co-author on a number of my scientific papers, has given this study exceptional thought and attention. I share with you his insightful response to why it is largely irrelevant clinically below.

Dr. Hector Lopez, board-certified specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, with a concentration in spine, sports and musculoskeletal medicine with post-graduate training in nutritional biochemistry has also provided an in-depth analysis examining in objective detail what risks, if any, long chain fatty acid present to the prostate in Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Friend or Foe to Prostate? More than meets the eye to recent controversy over omega-3 levels and prostate cancer risk.

Coridally,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

This was a retrospective case-control study that showed miniscule differences in omega-3 blood levels: 3.62% in the no-cancer control group, 3.66% in the prostate cancer group. For example, a headline in the Huffington Post read: “Omega-3 supplement taken by millions linked to aggressive prostate cancer.” This is blatantly untrue. To have an omega-3 blood level of 3.6 to 3.7% range is compatible with little to no fish consumption, and no fish oil capsule intake in BOTH arms of the study.

Japanese men consume about 8 times more fish than American men, and on average have an omega-3 index of 8 to 10% (over twice as high as either group in this study). Japanese men have a prostate cancer level that is less than one-sixth that is noted in American men. Prior studies from other investigators have suggested if anything lowers rates of prostate cancer, it is with higher intake of fish and omega-3 fatty acids.

Higher omega-3 levels have been consistently and strongly correlated with lower risks for cardiovascular mortality, sudden cardiac death, all-cause mortality and genetic aging at a cellular level (slowing telomere attrition). William Harris PhD, the ‘CodFather’ of omega-3, and I are looking at the GISSI trials to see if we can shed light on this issue with randomized trial data. Stay tuned, we will let you know what it shows. In the meantime, here is Dr. Harris’s in-depth analysis.

Bottom line: In my opinion, this study is largely irrelevant clinically. And on a personal note, I will continue to emulate the Japanese and keep my omega-3 levels at or above 8%.

James H O’Keefe, MD
Director, Preventive Cardiology Program

Canned Tuna | The Paleo Diet

Hi Dr. Cordain,

I read your book The Paleo Diet several years ago and on page 122 you mention that “Canning also increases the level of oxidized cholesterol in fish, specifically increasing a molecule called 25 hydroxycholesterol that is extremely destructive to the linings of arterial blood vessels. This is so destructive, in fact, that oxidized cholesterol is routinely fed to laboratory animals to accelerate the artery-clogging atherosclerotic process in order to test theories of heart disease. In animal models of atherosclerosis and heart disease, only 0.3 % of the total ingested cholesterol needs to be in the form of oxidized cholesterol to cause premature damage to arterial linings.”

Many health-conscious people eat canned fish for the supposed health benefits and are not aware of the book’s claims. Also noticed you only mention canned tuna but no other species of fish.

Is consuming canned fish really a serious danger to people’s arterial blood vessels and should we avoid eating these products? Appreciate if you could refer me to research studies that confirm the above and if you aware of any recent studies?

Your thoughts are appreciated and I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Dan

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Hi Dan,

Good to hear from you and good question. The bottom line is that we should steer clear from oxidized cholesterol derived from any and all foods in our diet (see references 1-9). Clearly it is an impossible task to completely remove oxidized cholesterol from our diets, given that we are no longer hunter gatherers and that we enjoy cooked meats and fish in 21st century contemporary “Paleo Diets.” In references (10-21) you can see how the canning, smoking and preservation process of fish dilutes its nutritional characteristics and increases the production of oxidized cholesterol which is frequently referred to as oxysterols.

So, I recommend to reduce oxidized cholesterol in your diet. Try to eat meat, fish, poultry and eggs that have been slowly cooked under low heat like steaming, slow cooking crock pots, low heat baking, poaching, and other low temperature cooking techniques, including microwave. Try to avoid foods that have been cooked under high temperatures like frying, broiling, high temperature barbecuing, and searing. Additionally, canned meats and fish are almost always cooked at high heats to prevent botulism, which increases their oxidized cholesterol content. Clearly, canned tuna contains many healthful elements (high protein, high omega 3 long chain fatty acids) and should be part of contemporary Paleo Diets, but fresh tuna and fish is a better option if it is available and you can afford it.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

References

1. Emanuel HA, Hassel CA, Addis PB, Bergmann SD, Zavoral JH. Plasma cholesterol oxidation products (oxysterols) in human subjects fed a meal rich in oxysterols. Journal of food science 1991; 56: 843-7.
Hubbard RW, Ono Y, Sanchez A. Atherogenic effect of oxidized products of cholesterol. Prog Food Nutr Sci. 1989;13(1):17-44.

2. Jacobson MS. Cholesterol oxides in Indian ghee: possible cause of unexplained high risk of atherosclerosis in Indian immigrant populations. Lancet 1987;2:656-58.

3. Kumar, N., and O.P. Singhal, Cholesterol Oxides and Atherosclerosis: A Review, J. Sci. Food Agric. 55:497–510 (1991).

4. Kummerow FA. Interaction between sphingomyelin and oxysterols contributes to atherosclerosis and sudden death. Am J Cardiovasc Dis. 2013;3(1):17-26.

5. Otaegui-Arrazola A, Menéndez-Carreño M, Ansorena D, Astiasarán I. Oxysterols: A world to explore. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Dec;48(12):3289-303.

6. Pohjantahti-Maaroos H, Palomaki A, Kankkunen P, Laitinen R, Husgafvel S, Oksanen K. Circulating oxidized low-density lipoproteins and arterial elasticity: comparison between men with metabolic syndrome and physically active counterparts. Cardiovasc Diabetol 2010 Aug 20; 9: 41.

7. Staprans I, Pan XM, Rapp JH, Feingold KR. Oxidized Cholesterol in the Diet Accelerates the Development of Aortic Atherosclerosis in Cholesterol- Fed Rabbits. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 1998 Jun; 18: 977-83.

8. Otaegui-Arrazola A, Menéndez-Carreño M, Ansorena D, Astiasarán I. Oxysterols: A world to explore. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Dec;48(12):3289-303.

9. Lordan S, Mackrill JJ, O’Brien NM. Oxysterols and mechanisms of apoptotic signaling: implications in the pathology of degenerative diseases. J Nutr Biochem. 2009 May;20(5):321-36.

10. Aubourg S., Gallardo J.M. and Medina, I. 1997. Changes in lipids during different sterilizing conditions in canning albacore (Thunnus alalunga) in oil. Int. J. Food Sci. Tech. 32, 427-431.

11. Aubourg S., Medina I. and Pérez-Martin R. 1996. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in tuna phospholipids: distribution in the sn-2 location and changes during cooking. J. Agr. Food Chem. 44, 585-589.

12. Boran G., Karacam H. and Boran M. 2006. Changes in the quality of fish oils due to storage temperature and time. Food Chem. 98, 693-698.

13. Maruf F.W., Ledward D.A., Neale R.J. and Poulter R.G. 1990. Chemical and nutritional quality of Indonesian dried-salted mackerel. Int. J. Food Sci. Tech. 25, 66-77.

14. Ohshima, T., N. Li, and C. Koizumi, Oxidative Decomposition of Cholesterol in Fish Products, J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 70:595–600 (1993).

15. Oshima T. Formation and Content of Cholesterol Oxidation Products in Seafood and Seafood Products. In: Cholesterol and Phytosterol Oxidation Products Analysis, Occurrence, and Biological Effects, (Eds.), Codony R, Savage GP, Dutta PC , Cuardiola F. AOCS Publishing, 2002.

16. Osada, K., T. Kodama, L. Cui, K. Yamada, and M. Sugano, Levels and Formation of Oxidized Cholesterols in Processed Marine Foods, J. Agric. Food. Chem. 41:1893–1898 (1993).

17. Sebedio J.L., Ratnayake W.M.N. Ackman R.G., and Prevost J. 1993. Stability of polyunsaturated n-3 fatty acids during deep fat frying of Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus L.). Food Res. Int. 26, 163-172.

18. Selmi S, Sadok S. Change in lipids quality and fatty acids profile of two small pelagic fish: sardinella aurita and sardina pilchardus during canning process in olive oil and tomato sauce respectively. Bull. Inst. Natn. Scien. Tech. Mer de Salammbô, Vol. 34, 2007.

19. Stołyhwo A., Kołodziejska I. and Sikorski Z.E. 2006. Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in smoked Atlantic mackerel and Baltic sprats. Food Chem. 94, 589-595

20. Tarley R.T.C. Visentainer V.J., Matsushita M. and De-Souza N.E. 2004. Proximate composition, cholesterol and fatty acids profile of canned sardines (Sardinella brasiliensis) in soybean oil and tomato sauce. Food Chem. 88, 1-6.

21. Zunin P, Boggia R, Evangelisti F. Identification and Quantification of Cholesterol Oxidation Products in Canned Tuna. JAOCS. 2001; 78: 1037–1040

Affiliates and Credentials

Sign up for Email Newsletters!

We guarantee 100% privacy.
Your information will not be shared.

×