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A Primer on Dietary Fats – Part 2

In A Primer on Dietary Fats – Part 1, I looked at some basic concepts related to dietary fat/lipids including the different primary types of lipid (triglycerides, cholesterol and the ‘other stuff’) as well as the difference between triglyceride and cholesterol.  Finally, I looked at the issue of dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol briefly.

Today I want to finish up by looking at more detail at the issue of dietary triglycerides.  As I mentioned in Part 1, dietary triglycerides (TGs) make up the bulk of the fat that we consume in a day, providing over 90% of our total fat intake.  Therefore, understanding what the different ‘types’ of TG are along with how they affect the body is important.

 

Types of Dietary Triglyceride

As I mentioned in A Primer on Dietary Fats – Part 1, a fat/TG molecule consists of three fatty acid chains bound to a backbone molecule of glycerol.  And while people tend to talk about different types of fats (e.g. saturated fat or unsaturated fat), it’s actually the specific fatty acids that differ in terms of their chemical structure.  For simplicity, I’ll simply refer to the different types of ‘fats’ and leave it at … Read More

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A Primer on Dietary Fats – Part 1

For the past 30 years or so, ever since people started talking about cholesterol and heart disease, there has been a combination of concern and confusion over the topic of dietary fats in the diet.  In this article, I want to take a look at some of the topics involved to see if I can help to clear up some of the confusion.

Today I want to look at some general issues, including the major categories of dietary fats, the difference between cholesterol and triglycerides, and then look briefly at the impact of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol levels.  On Friday, in Part 2, I’ll look in some detail at the different types of dietary triglycerides and address some of the current controversy over their effects on health.

 

Triglycerides, Cholesterol and Everything Else

While people tend to throw around the term dietary fat somewhat loosely, the fact is that not all of the fat that we consume on a daily basis is the same.  And here I’m not talking about saturated vs. unsaturated fats.  Quite in fact, dietary fats (more generally known as lipids) come in distinct chemical types.

Now, the primary two that folks eat on a day … Read More

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Fish Oil Intake for Inflammation

Q: I read in quite a lot of places that fish oil capsules or cod liver oil are a great supplement for controlling inflammation and improving nutrient partitioning, but no one gives any information about dosing. I have no idea how much of this stuff to ingest. Have you formed any guidelines as a result of your research?

A: A fairly standard dose of fish oil in the studies is the equivalent of 6X1 gram capsules. The average capsule has 180 mg epa and 120 dha so 6 capsules will provide 1020 mg epa and 720mg dha for a total of 1.8 grams of total fish oil. I would consider this basically the minimum daily amount that would be beneficial on any level.

Some work has identified that the body will hit a limit (in terms of plasma saturation) on DHA at 1.2 grams per day which is the equivalent of 10X1 gram fish oil capsules. That would also provide 1.8 grams EPA for a total of 3 grams per day of fish oil. Under most conditions, I think this is more than enough.

A friend who uses fish oiils to control her arthritis will often go as high as … Read More

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Carbohydrate and Fat Controversies: Part 2

In Carbohydrate and Fat Controversies: Part 1, I begun an examination of the argument over carbohydrate and fat intakes in the human diet, explaining that, contrary to popular argument, most extremist stances in this debate are incorrect. In Part 2, I want to continue addressing the issue by looking at both sides of the debate.

Examining Both Sides of the Debate

As noted, the usual argument goes that high-fat diets cause high-cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, obesity and the rest, as evidenced by the high incidence of those disease in modern diets (which are typically high in fat). But that’s a questionable conclusion to draw.

Modern diets are also high in carbohydrates (and mainly the highly refined, high GI, low-fiber stuff that the body often doesn’t handle well), low in fruits and vegetables, and generally contain the wrong types of fats (an excess of saturated and trans fats with insufficient amounts of healthy fats). Such an intake is typically coupled with inactivity, the folks eating them tend to be overweight/obese, smoking and alcohol play a role, etc. That is, there are a number of inter-related factors at work here.

Pinning the blame entirely on fat intake or expecting only a … Read More

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Carbohydrate and Fat Controversies: Part 1

Although there are still many Protein Controversies (usually regarding kidney health, bone health, etc.), nowhere in the dietary world is there quite as much controversy as over carbohydrate versus fat intakes.

In this article, I want to look at carbohydrate and fat intake in terms of the various arguments and debates that tend to surround them.

The main controversy here revolves around what amounts of carbohydrates and/or fat are ideal, healthy, recommended, etc. and that’s what I’ll focus on. I’m not going to deal with body composition explicitly in this article, I’ll save that for another day.

Two (or Three) Dietary Camps

Generally, folks fall into one of two camps regarding whether they think carbohydrates or fats are good or bad. For a couple of decades now, the mainstream of dietary advice has been more or less stuck in the mindset of ‘fat is evil and ‘carbohydrate is good’.

Various attempts to promote so-called ‘high-fat’ or ‘low-carb’ diets have usually been shot down as fads although there is increasing research evidence that, at least for some individuals (usually those with insulin resistance) higher fat intakes and lowered carbohydrates may be both beneficial and preferred.

However, for the most part, I’d … Read More