By Bill Emerson
According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, eating wholesome fatty foods is good for your health! The logic, anthropological observations and impressive research that this nonprofit organization presents on this subject are truly compelling. As a result, foundation president Sally Fallon claims that our bodies do need wholesome, saturated fats, and, in fact, can be harmed by a low fat diet. Consequently, foods such as butter, whole milk and cheese, eggs and red meat should be eaten regularly.
Only animal fats can stimulate the body to convert carotenes to vitamin A; while true vitamin A is found only in animal products. As a result, the foundation’s quarterly journal Wise Traditions reported in the fall of 2002 that “The governments of Australia and New Zealand are expected to require a warning statement for lowfat, evaporated, and dried milk products … that will alert parents that such products could retard growth and cause chronic diarrhea in children under the age of two. The body must call on its reserves of vitamin A to process the high protein content of such products, and for growing children the results can be disastrous.”
In addition, “a recent study by Dutch scientists found that daily consumption of whole milk and butter was linked with significantly reduced rates of asthma and wheezing.” (Thorax, July, 2003:58 (7); 567-572) Another study found that a high fat diet protects brain cells in children who have seizures. (UPI Science News, 3/1/2003)
Other benefits of animal fats reported by Fallon are:
• They contain many nutrients that protect against cancer and heart disease; such diseases are linked to consuming large amounts of vegetable oils. (Fed. Proc. July, 1998, 387:2215);
• They increase the infection fighting power of certain white blood cells, which, according to researchers with the USDA’s Human Nutrition Center, is significantly reduced by a low fat diet;
• They are needed to make minerals from food available to the human system;
• They provide vitamins nutrients A and D, which the body uses to prevent inflammation.
New research has shown that those pre-Columbian Indians who had access to the most animal foods had the least degenerative joint disease, dental decay, stunted growth and other bone problems. (New York Times, 10/29/02)
Butterfat in butter and whole cream provides the best and most easily absorbed form of vitamin A. Heart protection from saturated animal fats is evidenced in a study published by the British Medical Journal almost 40 years ago. Of patients who had an initial heart attack, 75% of the animal fat eaters survived after two years compared with 52% and 57% of those on polyunsaturated corn oil and olive oil regimens. These fats also protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins.
The human brain is over 65% fat. Our hormones are made from fat, and so is the outer layer of every cell in our bodies, where fats provide the necessary stiffness and integrity.
Fat keeps our skin healthy, enhances our immune system, stabilizes our blood sugar and prevents diabetes. Finally, good fats benefit our hearts, normalize our blood fats and cholesterol, and even prevent cancer!
Innumerable other references to the benefits of saturated fats are given in the Weston Price literature, as do multitudinous entries that correct the myths we hear daily. For one, the rapid increase in heart disease from 1920 to 1960 coincided with a decline in the consumption of animal fats and the dramatic increase in hydrogenated and processed vegetable oils. In fact, a more recent observation is that “margarine eaters have twice the rate of heart disease as butter eaters.” (Nutrition Week, 3/22/91, 21:12) And, contrary to what we have been led to believe, a 1994 study discovered that the fatty acids found in artery clogs are mostly unsaturated, not saturated fats. (Lancet, 1994, 344:1195)
Furthermore, Lancet reported in 1992 that “lowfat diets are associated with increased rates of depression, psychological problems, fatigue, violence, and suicide.” (3/2/92, v.339) Statistics from the University of Maryland showed “a strong significant correlation with … vegetable fat and an essentially strong negative correlation … with animal fat to total cancer deaths and breast and colon cancer incidence.” Similarly, a study found women on high fat diets had no more breast cancer than those on very lowfat diets. (New England Journal of Medicine, 2/8/96)
Perhaps the biggest myth of all pertains to the harm of high blood cholesterol from eating saturated fats. A survey at Baylor University of 1700 patients with severe atheriosclerosis showed only 20% with high blood serum cholesterol, concluding that “cholesterol shares only a remote responsibility for heart disease.”
Another study showed that 80-year-olds on a low cholesterol, high unsaturated fat diet had twice as much cancer as the rest. And in the Netherlands, people older than 85 live longer if their cholesterol level is higher than “normal” (PPNF Health Journal), while the Journal of American Medical Assoc. (11/2/94) reported that people over age 70 with high cholesterol did not have more heart attacks than others.
In fact, according to the Price Foundation, high cholesterol is not dangerous by itself, but may reflect an unhealthy condition in the body. So cholesterol is therefore not a deadly poison, but instead, is a substance vital to the cells of all animals. Fallon lists some of its roles in her book, Nourishing Traditions:
• Cholesterol from the blood is driven into tissues to give them structural integrity when they become flabby;
• It is a precursor to the hormones that help us deal with stress and protect the body against heart disease and cancer and is a precursor to the sex hormones;
• It is a precursor to vitamin D;
• Bile salts, essential for digestion and assimilation of fats, are made of it;
• It is an antioxidant that protects us from the free radical damage that leads to heart disease and cancer;
• It is needed by babies and children through their growing years to ensure proper development of the brain and nervous system;
• It helps maintain the health of the intestinal wall, which is why low cholesterol diets can lead to intestinal disorders.
Much can be added about the myths and benefits of saturated fats and cholesterol. But to conclude here, Fallon recommends that the best sources of saturated fats are organic milk, butter, cream and cheeses – preferably from raw milk and from grass fed cows; meat from grass fed animals; eggs from free range chickens; and unfarmed, cold water, deep sea fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Naturally, these should be eaten with a wide variety of other whole foods, including high fiber foods, and complemented with lots of exercise.
For more information, visit westonaprice.org, subscribe to the Price Foundation’s journal Wise Traditions and/or read such books as Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, Ph.D., and The Cholesterol Myths by Uffe Ravnski, M.D.
Organic Milk Has More Omega-3s and Other Nutrients
Organic milk contains 71% more omega-3 essential fatty acid than ordinary milk, according to research at Aberdeen University. Omega-3 helps maintain a healthy heart, supple and flexible joints, healthy growth, and strong bones and teeth. The increase in organic milk comes from the higher ratio of clover that organic cows consume. Organic cheese may be an even better source of omega-3 than milk.
Jamie Robertson, livestock projects manager at Aberdeen, said: “Polyunsaturated fats are broken down into two groups, omega-3 and omega-6, and ideally an equal ratio should be consumed. Most people in the UK eat too much omega-6 and are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, therefore drinking organic milk could redress the balance.” (Source: www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-330120/The-health-benefits-organic-milk.html; 9/12/04.)
Likewise, research in the United Kingdom showed that organically reared cows, which eat high levels of fresh grass, clover pasture and grass clover silage, produced milk that is on average 50% higher in vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), 75% higher in beta carotene (which our bodies convert to vitamin A) and two to three times higher in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthine than non-organic milk. (www.soilassociation.org/)
Free-Range Pork Favored for Flavor
The Boston Globe recently ran a feature on the increasing number of farmers producing free-range pork. Their product is finding favor with restaurant chefs who prize the meat for its flavor and are willing to pay a premium to obtain it. According to the article, the pork industry carried the quest for a leaner pig too far, to the point where the meat became dry and tasteless, and production methods stress the pigs, all detracting from pork’s flavor. The feature includes stories on the production of Berkshire hogs for premium pork, and a look at local prices for free-range and natural pork brands. Sources: ATTRA Weekly Harvest Newsletter, Dec. 8, 2004, https://attra.ncat.org; www.boston.com/ae/food/articles/2004/12/01/putting_flavor_back_into_pork/
Related ATTRA publication: Hog Production Alternatives