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Australian not healthy star ratings system paleo network-min

Have you seen who’s behind the (not so) Healthy Star Ratings system?

I saw a TV commercial recently for Uncle Toby’s Oat sachets and the main focus of the advert was how amazingly healthy they are. Apparently these Oats achieve a “4 healthy star rating” – and the higher the star rating, the healthier the product. So they say. Whilst I don’t want to pick on oats specifically, as I think they’re probably one of the not-as-bad-as-the-other-cereals out there, it really highlights how dangerously misleading these Healthy Star Ratings are. Initially I thought the Healthy Rating System was just based on old, outdated (incorrect) advice, but when I saw who was involved in it’s creation, it took a far more sinister turn.

Australian not healthy star ratings system paleo network-min

What are Healthy Star Ratings?

This is an Australian initiative, and it’s jointly funded by the Australian, state and territory governments, and developed in partnership with industry and public health and consumer groups.

I took a further look into these groups, who have jointly developed these ratings, and they include the Australian Beverages Council, and the Australian Food and Grocery Council.

And just who makes up these bodies?

Members of the Australian Beverages Council include:

  • Coca-Cola Amatil Pty Ltd
  • Coca-Cola South Pacific
  • Heinz Australia P/L
  • PepsiCo Australia Holdings Pty Ltd
  • Red Bull Australia Pty Ltd
  • Tropico Fruits Pty Ltd

Among many others… (Surely we’re not going to ever see health ratings on Red Bull?)

The Australian Food and Grocery Council has on its board:

  • Clive Stiff who is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Unilever Australia & NZ – their brands include Bertolli, Streets Ice Cream and my favourite Flora pro-activ
  • Trevor Clayton who is Chief Executive Officer for Nestle Australia Ltd
  • Andrew Towle who is Managing Director for Kellogg (Australia) Pty Ltd
  • Darren O’Brien who is Managing Director for Mondelez Foods Australia (better known as Kraft Foods and Cadbury)
  • Michael Ryan who is General Manager of Mars Chocolate, and
  • Peter West, Managing Director of Lion Dairy & Drinks

So the very companies who produce packaged, processed convenience food have very helpfully come up with a healthy star rating system? And we’re supposed to use this to tell us what is healthy food we should be eating lots of?

How to get a high star rating?

No surprisingly the star system is based on the old beliefs that whole grains are good for us, and fat to be avoided. Products receiving above 4 stars will include whole-grain foods, low-fat milk and reduced fat cheese, and extra lite (urgh I hate that word, theirs, not mine) spreads.

And how to get a low rating?

Products getting below 1 star include those that are full fat, regular fat yoghurt, high saturated fat cheese, salted butter, coconut oil (yes, they expressly list coconut oil on the less healthy foods list) and of course, untrimmed meats. So we can pretty much assume if it’s a natural, unprocessed, paleo food, it won’t get a high healthy star rating.

So I’ve come up with a new system to help you use the star rating system to identify healthy foods:

If it has a healthy star rating, avoid it tweet this quote

What’s your opinion on the Healthy Star Rating system?

Eat margarine or your family will die

Eat margarine or your family will die

“Health food” commercials are getting worse and worse – and of course I’m not referring to adverts for kale or grass-fed beef. I’m talking about products with a list of unpronounceable ingredients – products I go out of my way to avoid. And given that you’re reading my blog, I suspect you do too.

There seems to have been a huge turn here. It seems to slow be becoming the norm to eat an unprocessed diet of real, whole foods. Avoiding processed carbs like bread and pasta seems to be slowly becoming mainstream, and a feat of fat is definitely starting to disappear. I get the impression the manufacturers of  all those other food-like-products are getting worried…

So which advert has been annoying me most this week?

Eat margarine or your family will die

Flora Pro-Activ

Cue upset wife that her husband has high cholesterol. He undertakes the Flora Pro-Activ challenge for three weeks, has his cholesterol re-checked. Ends with happy wife, now her husband isn’t about to drop dead due to a high cholesterol invoked heart attack.

So what is the Flora challenge? For three weeks you eat 25 g of Flora every day, make sure you eat your wholegrains, replace BAD saturated fat with healthy saturated fat and generally keep your fat as low as possible. Nooo!

And what does Flora Pro-Activ actually contain?

Ingredients: Water, Vegetable Oils (30%), Plant Sterol Esters (12.5%), Buttermilk, Modified Waxy Corn Starch, Salt (1%), Emulsifiers (Mono-and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Sunflower Lecithin), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Citric Acid, Flavourings, Colour (Beta Carotene), Vitamin A and D

And evil butter? Let’s remind ourselves of the dangerous ingredients that contains: Pasteurised Cream (from Milk), Water, Salt. Three ingredients that I have in my kitchen; compared to unidentified “vegetable” oils and a host of ingredients not available at the local farmers market.

Despite a lot of research showing a higher cholesterol actually lowers the risk of heart attack, of course, these companies still like to keep us fearing cholesterol. More worrying is the margarine they want us to eat to benefit our health – so chemically processed, they are a fat that our bodies don’t recognise at all.

The other issue, is the claim that the plant sterol esters in this product actually lower our cholesterol. The adverts make it sound like a magic potion, with the ability to dramatically cut your cholesterol in a matter of days. The reality is that alone, these chemicals can supposedly only reduce cholesterol by a maximum of 10% (average results presumably a lot lower) – and of course that’s assuming reducing cholesterol is a good thing.

All in all I find the advert extremely misleading and think it’s outrageous that they come into our homes every day, suggesting that if you love your family, you need to make sure they eat 25 g of margarine a day – or risk losing them to heart disease.

What do you think about the Flora Pro-Activ challenge and the health commercials that come into your home each day?

Why I'm eating margarine & 6 other non Paleo foods again paleo diet april fools day-min

Why I’m eating margarine & 6 other non Paleo foods again

I’ve been thinking a lot about my diet recently, and I’m getting a little worried that being fully Paleo maybe isn’t the healthiest choice I can make. After speaking to several health experts recently, and reading up on the latest government recommendations, I’ve started to get really worried about how healthy my Paleo diet really is. Despite my blog being all about the Paleo diet, it’s only fair that I’m honest with you and share my concerns and fears.

I’m concerned that I’m not getting enough calcium, fibre or carbohydrates. I’ve also started to get really worried about how much more fat I’ve been consuming, especially when compared to what the government recommend. I’m suspecting I’m eating way too much fat, and probably more meat and eggs than I should as well. I’ve read several times this week that it’s dangerous to eat more than one egg a day, especially if you eat the yolk. Something has got to change…

In fact, I’m considering if Paleo is a healthy choice altogether. I’ve been pondering whether there are a lot of very healthy, nutritious foods that I’m excluding from my diet by continuing to be Paleo. I’m going to initially work on reintroducing the following foods, in the hope I start to feel even more healthy, before committing to a really healthy low fat diet for a month. Here are the seven foods I’m going to start eating again, starting today. I’ll be reporting back on my progress and would love to hear your thoughts on the new additions to my modified paleo diet.

Why I'm eating margarine & 6 other non Paleo foods again paleo diet april fools day-min

Margarine

With my new found concerns about cholesterol and eating high fat, the first, and most obvious decision for me to make was to swap coconut nut oil and grass fed ghee for heart healthy margarine. I’m going to try to find an organic margarine, and make sure I choose a brand that is heart healthy. This was a hard decision to make, but I’m becoming convinced a very healthy one – as margarine is much lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, which means I’m much less likely to get heart disease. Carrots drenched in margarine doesn’t sound as appealing as butter, but I’ll just have to get used to it for the good of my health.

Vegetable Oil

Have you seen the saturated fat content of butter, lard, ghee and coconut oil? I’m going to throw away my olive oil and swap it with healthy vegetable oil. This should also help keep my cholesterol levels low as it’s low in saturated fat. Also it’s vegetable oil, so will help me get towards my five a day.

Quorn Mince

I’ve also been reading a lot about how badly meat clogs up your arteries and is really hard to digest, so I’m planning to start with meatless Monday’s and reduce my meat consumption dramatically. I’ve decided to replace my organic, grass fed ground beef with healthy vegan Quorn mince. It’s made from rehydrated mycoprotein extracted from the fungus ‘Fusarium Venenatum.’ I’m not really sure what that is, but Quorn is really low in fat and has no unhealthy animal fats, so it is obviously very healthy. I’ve also discovered that Quorn make healthy, meat free bacon slices and chicken fillets too. So really, I’m not even going to notice I’ve gone meat free.

Soy Milk

I’ve been having very little dairy in my paleo diet – and despite my recent body scan showing I have an excellent bone density, I clearly must be highly deficient in calcium. I’ve just bought my first bottle of soy milk, so I’ll be making sure I drink a lot of this each day, as well as skim milk to give my calcium levels a big boost. I must be honest, I opened the bottle and it did not smell good, but if I add some hot chocolate to it, it should hopefully take away the taste.

Whole grain cereal

There are so many revolutionary new whole grain cereals out there now, compared to when I started eating Paleo. I’ve even found a special range specifically designed to promote heart health, which makes me question if I’m right to continue to start the day with a high fat meal? These technologically advanced cereals do seem to be an easy way to start the day, providing lots of healthy carbohydrates for energy. The one I’m looking forward to trying the most is Kellogg’s Special K Multi Grain – it contains FOUR different types of healthy grains and is almost fat free. I’ll make sure I have it with soy or skim milk.

Coca Cola Zero

Pretty much all I’ve been drinking for the last few years has been water and tea. I’ve hear it’s bad to omit variety which has been concerning me. I haven’t had a can of Coca Cola in so long because I’d convinced myself it was unhealthy, but they now make a version with no sugar at all. Who knows what it is sweetened with, but I can’t wait to try one again. The people in the TV adverts always look positively glowing with health and I’m quite keen to have some of what they’re having. It’s got no sugar, so it must be healthy, as we all know how bad sugar is for us.

Low Fat Snack Bars

In case I do get hungry between meals (which I’m sure I won’t, as all of the carbohydrates I’ll be eating with provide me with lots of energy) I’ll make an effort to reach for a low fat snack bar rather than a cholesterol-loaded hard boiled egg, home made jerky, or a handful of nuts as I have been doing. There are so many different flavours these days, and a lot of them are healthy whole grain. Some even are fruit flavoured, which will help me get to my five a day.

Since I’ve made this decision I’ve realised a lot of these foods don’t need to be kept in the fridge and don’t seem to go off – so this is going to make life so much easier for me – another benefit to adapting my diet.

Are there any healthy non Paleo foods that you are going to add back to your diet? Let me know what you’ve added back and why in the comments below.

Where Canola's Grow Rapeseed oil vegetable oil healthy paleo diet-min

Ever Wondered Where Canola’s Grow?

Canola oil, otherwise known as rapeseed oil, is an oil growing in popularity in the Western world due to its supposed ‘healthiness’ as well as the fact that it is cheap to produce, and therefore, consume. Many people who follow conventional wisdom are switching to canola oil as their oil of choice for frying, roasting and baking – but the more you learn about it, the more you realise it really isn’t a good choice…

It may seem strange, but the name ‘canola’ actually has no relevance to the plant it is made from whatsoever. In fact, ‘canola’ was a name chosen by the board of the Rapeseed Association of Canada – the ‘Can’ part standing for Canada, and the ‘Ola’ referring to oil. These marketing companies really aren’t geniuses, are they!?

Where Canola's Grow Rapeseed oil vegetable oil healthy paleo diet-min

Like any seed oil, rapeseed requires industrial scale processing to be turned into an oil. It is made my heating and then crushing the seed, before refining with hexane, bleaching with clay, and then deodorizing using steam distillation. You wouldn’t eat an animal or vegetable that had been refined, bleached, and deodorized, so why should your oil be any different? We are all wise enough to know by now that ‘refined’ is a word that is most definitely doesn’t fit the Paleo blueprint.

Canola oil is marketed as a ‘healthy’ product because it is low in saturated fat. We know by now that saturated fat isn’t a bad thing – nope, quite the opposite. Saturated fat provides us with a pure, easy to metabolise form of energy – and that’s why I cook in coconut oil whenever I can. Canola oil also doesn’t stand up well to heat, and goes rancid at fairly low temperatures – especially in comparison to stable fats like coconut oil, palm oil and ghee. Canola oil is high in erucic acid, a well known toxin that causes myocardial lipidosis (fatty degeneration of the heart). The majority of Canola oil is also genetically modified to be herbicide resistant.

Canola oil is also marketed as ‘healthy’ because it has a good Omega 3:6 ratio – approximately 2 parts omega 6 to 1 part omega 3. We know that the ideal ratio is 1:1; but, it’s worth holding our hands up and admitting that a 2:1 ratio is pretty good. However, we also know that omega 3s do not stand up well to heat. As Canola oil is processed using high temperatures, the omega 3 turns rancid quickly and is rendered useless – or even worse – toxic. What you are left with is a nasty, omega 6 rich liquid. Oh, and it doesn’t even taste good!

The more you learn about Canola oil, the more you realise you are better off without it. It’s not a healthy choice at all, it’s just another product devised by intelligent marketing companies trying to sell a product at the expense of your health.

What are your opinions on Canola oil? Do you use it, or do you prefer olive oil, coconut oil, lard and ghee?

The Paleo Guide to Cooking Oils which coconut oil olive lard tallow vegetable sunflower canola healthy-min

The Paleo Guide to Cooking Oils

In the Paleo world, we’re not scared of fat. Quite the contrary – we embrace healthy fats and encourage liberal consumption. We worship the health giving properties of coconut oil, olive oil and grass fed ghee. At the same time, we understand the danger of rancid seed oils with a scarily high Omega 6 content. All the information about fats can be somewhat confusing – so do you know what oil to use, and when to use it?

Coconut Oil 

My personal favourite – and perhaps the all-round king of cooking oils, coconut oil really is a product that no Paleo kitchen is complete without. It’s shelf stable, rich in healthy medium chain triglycerides and doesn’t oxidise easily. It’s perfect for using in baked goods, for frying, for roasting vegetables – or just eating by the spoonful. Many people also use it as a natural moisturiser, hair product or lip balm. It’s also been proven to have antibacterial effects and is excellent for improving your gut health, boosting your immunity and improving your metabolism. If you’d rather not stock up on lots of different oils, coconut oil has to be the first on your list.

Make sure you buy the unrefined ‘extra virgin’ kind – it’s solid at room temperature and liquid at around 24 degrees C (76F). It can be pretty expensive compared to things like olive oil, which is why I buy mine in bulk!

The Paleo Guide to Cooking Oils which coconut oil olive lard tallow vegetable sunflower canola healthy-min

Ghee

Ghee always throws up a bit of confusion for us Paleo folk, not least because it’s a form of dairy and dairy isn’t part of the Paleo framework. Yes, Ghee is clarified butter – but the process that makes it removes the problematic casein and lactose content. If you don’t tolerate other forms of dairy, you’ll probably still be ok with ghee. I’ve recently started including it in my diet, with excellent results – and it tastes amazing too!

It has a great omega 3 : omega 6 ratio (roughly 1:1) and is rich in vitamins A, D, E and K2. It’s one of the most stable fats for cooking at high temperatures, so is great for frying and roasting. However, it is expensive, and if you can’t buy it grass fed, you’re probably better off without it altogether.

Palm Oil

Similar to coconut oil in that it is shelf stable and rich in healthy saturated fats, palm oil is generally more expensive and harder to find. It also draws about controversy because of its sustainability and the impact palm oil farming is having on Orang-utan populations. If you can find it from a verified, sustainable source, and you can afford it – then use it much as you would in coconut oil (except in baking). If you can’t, stick to the good stuff above.

Olive Oil

Probably the most popular and well known healthy oil – olive oil is one of those that you can enjoy with your conventional wisdom friends without getting into an argument about the health benefits of saturated fats. It stands up fairly well to heat, so makes a decent oil for light pan frying – but it’s much better as a dressing, drizzled liberally onto salads, meats, or used in pesto. You’ll find lots of different flavours and colours of olive oil on the shelves; just make sure you always buy ‘Extra Virgin’ and ideally organic. In my experience, the darker the colour, the tastier it will be.

Animal Fats

Animal fats are much maligned in conventional wisdom, but why so?

Avocado Oil, Walnut Oil and Macadamia Oil

Experiment with these as dressings and enjoy their unique flavours – but don’t attempt to cook with them. They’re not the most heat stable, and besides, they’re expensive so why would you want to? Buy them in dark bottles where possible to minimise oxidation.

So tell me, what’s your favourite cooking oil? If you can’t see it listed here, it’s probably not Paleo. So that means stay away from the Canola oil, Sunflower Oil, Vegetable Oil and Margarine!

Butter guilt trip paleo diet-min

Butter Guilt Trip

Here in Australia a commercial that I find particularly irritating, is for a brand of Margarine, MeadowLea.  Their advert is centred on concerned mothers promising to switch from butter to margarine.  If the product was pixelated out and the words replaced, you could easily think the mothers were pledging to give up hard drugs for the sake of their families – such is butter vilified in the advert.

The MeadowLea website explains how Saturated Fats are bad fats which increase cholesterol in the blood and should be limited.  They list fatty meats, butter, chicken skin, cream, full cream milk, cheese, coconut oil and palm oil in the danger category.  (I wonder how much longer until the lipid hypothesis is finally laid to rest?)

The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated categories – which they say can be included in “everyday healthy eating”, include margarine spreads, canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil.  So basically they pretty much recommend the complete reverse to Paleo, as you’d expect from a company making money from selling margarine.

Think of the Children!

Their new campaign is to encourage Australian families to improve their diet by swapping butter for (their brand of) margarine – and once enough people make the pledge* they will plant seed gardens in children’s hospitals in Australia.

From a corporate perspective, it’s actually a pretty smart campaign.  They know mothers tend to procure the families groceries and therefore control the family diet.  They also know mothers are concerned about their families’ health.  Tying the campaign in with children’s hospital almost puts an extra pressure on mothers; it almost feels as though if families don’t stop eating butter, they won’t be helping out children’s hospitals – how selfish.  I also think tying the campaign in with hospitals will make people subconsciously associate their choice of butter or margarine, with ill health – particularly the ill health of children.  “Swap butter for margarine and we’ll build an animal rescue centre” just wouldn’t have the same emotional pull, would it?

Imagine the outcry if a cigarette company promised to build hospital wards, if enough people converted their families from non-smokers to smokers?  Surely there is enough information in the public domain now, for substantial objection to the health claims of a margarine manufacturer?  Yet they are allowed to guilt-trip mothers into making ill-informed decisions into the nutrition of their families.

Butter guilt trip paleo diet-min

 Mainly Natural Sources

In case you wondered, the ingredients for MeadlowLea are:

Vegetable Oils 65% (containing 52% Canola & Sunflower Oil), water, salt, <1% (emulsifiers (soy lecithin, 471), preservative (202), food acid (lactic)), milk solids, maltodextrin, natural colour (beta-carotene), vitamins A & D, flavour.

I’m very curious as to what the mysterious 13% of vegetable oils is, that isn’t listed?  Their site and labelling seem very coy on this.  But hey, “99% of the ingredients in MeadowLea are from natural sources” – so it must be good!  Using that logic, it must be positively healthy to add Petroleum to lunch, given that it’s a natural product from natural sources.

The typical ingredients in butter:

Cream, water.

People only seem to eat margarine because they buy into the health claims – I’m yet to hear of anyone who actually prefers the taste.  Once the mainstream come to accept they’ve been mislead on fats, I can’t see how companies making products like margarine will be able to survive.  Campaigns like this are perhaps an inevitable part of the companies’ frantic journey through the unwinding of the lipid hypothesis.

Have you seen the advert yet?  Did you feel similarly irritated by it?

*If you happen to look at their website and see the number of people who have made the promise, reduce the number by one.  I accidently clicked the promise button – and they don’t have a button for un-promise’s.  As much as I don’t like breaking promises, this is one I will take pride in breaking – starting with lots of animal fat for dinner.
Butter-or-Margarine-min

Another Margarine or Butter “Health” Article

I was reading the Summer 2012 edition of “Woman’s Weekly Health” earlier, when I came across this double page spread debating whether Margarine or Butter is better for your health.  Fighting the corner for butter was a cook, Fran Abdallaoui.  Arguing the case for margarine was Barbara Eden, Nutrition Manager at National Heart Foundation of Australia.  I’m not sure how pitching a cook against a nutritionist (especially one representing the national heart foundation) is a balanced debate.  I don’t think they want their readers to side with butter, do you?

Butter-or-Margarine-min

Eden says “It comes down to your health and that’s the main factor your (SIC) considering when choosing between margarine and butter, there’s really no choice to make”.  She also tells readers that “A regular butter is made up of… more than four per cent trans fat”, which I find frustratingly misleading, since natural, completely inert trans fats – as found in animal products – are completely different to the harmful trans fats found in many processed foods.

This is all because Eden believes “It’s the saturated fat and trans fat in our food supply that elevates your blood cholesterol levels which increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, and that’s one of the leading causes of death in Australia”

The article also adds “there is the convenience factor of the immediately spreadable product with a longer shelf life” as another reason we should go for margarine instead of butter.  Well, using that argument, shouldn’t we all have frozen pizza for dinner – it’s a lot more convenient and has a far longer shelf life than whole food…

In a “health” magazine, readers are going to place much more confidence in a nutritionist (especially one representing the national heart foundation) than they would a cook.  If they really want to present a debate, surely they should present both sides, equally?  Or better still, finally run an article about how wrong they’ve had it for the past few decades.  I must stop reading “health” magazines – they raise my cortisol levels more than almost anything else and that’s definitely not good for my health!

Conventional wisdom bad advice paleo diet primal-min

More Health Advice/ Conventional Wisdom

Another gem from my afternoon of reading “health” magazines in all of their Conventional Wisdom glory.  This one was in the October issue of “The Australian Healthy Food Guide”, in an article all about fat.

Conventional wisdom bad advice paleo diet primal

  • Choose a canola, sunflower or olive oil reduced fat table spread instead of butter

This sounds very similar to the advice in yesterdays post, based on an irrational fear of saturated fat.

  • When cooking, use spray oil wherever possible

I’ve not seen spray coconut oil, so can only assume they must mean spray “vegetable” oils.  The whole reason for spraying is to use less fat.  In that respect I guess it’s better to use less vegetable oil – but none would be a much bigger health improvement.

  • For salad dressings, choose a vegetable or seed oil such as canola, sunflower, olive, soybean, sesame or peanut

+1 point for the olive oil.  But I’d personally rather have my salad undressed – with a serving of meat & an avocado to make sure I got some good fat with my lunch.  As for putting soybean oil on my salad – what a horrible thought – don’t do it!

  • Choose low-fat varieties of foods whenever possible

Instead of natural, whole foods, with no added or altered ingredients, go for Franken foods instead!?

  • Choose reduced-fat or skim dairy foods

Fat soluble vitamins in the dairy can’t be absorbed, without the fat.  Also without the fat, the sugar content is proportionally higher – increasing the insulin effect.   Not to mention the fact fat is not the villain?

Fat is essential for so many functions.  It is a great energy source, without the crash and burn of relying on carbohydrates for energy.  I wonder how many more years it will take before health magazines catch up?  Will they actually tell us to increase our intake of good fats and give up the grains?  One day?

Conventional wisdom bad advice paleo diet primal-min

Margarine or Butter paleo diet primal health nutrition-min

Margarine or Butter? Seriously?

I couldn’t help myself.  I read through October’s Issue of “Good Health” magazine today.  Our ideas on what constitutes good health couldn’t be much further apart.

I thought conventional wisdom was starting to come round to realising that natural, animal fat maybe isn’t so bad after all.  Clearly not.

So, let’s compare the ingredients: –

Butter

  • Cream

Margarine (this example is Flora)

  • Water
  • vegetable oils (including sunflower oil) (so other vegetable oils are also in the mix, with a high omega 6 ratio)
  • plant sterol esters (12.5%) (this is an additive that reduces cholesterol, but interferes with absorption of fat soluble vitamins & hormones)
  • modified tapioca starch, salt (1.0%) (this is a chemically altered thickener)
  • buttermilk
  • Emulsifiers: Mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids, sunflower lecithin
  • Preservative: Potassium sorbate, citric acid, vitamin E, flavouring (often synthetic chemicals), vitamin B6, folic acid
  • Colour: Beta carotene, Vitamins A, D and B12

So, this article specifically mentions trans fats.  Well, as Julianne Taylor clearly explains, “trans fat free” margarine doesn’t sound too great either.  And as for the trans fat in butter – natural trans fats are created in the stomachs of ruminants (like cows) – and have a completely different fatty acid profile to trans fats found in artificial foods.  A lot of evidence suggests that these natural trans fats may actually be beneficial.

Margarine or Butter paleo diet primal health nutrition-min

Margarine, seriously?

Soy, Grains & Margarine for Better Health newspaper Telegraph paleo diet health advice-min

Soy, Grains & Margarine for Better Health!

I really shouldn’t read health supplements any more.  They generally just annoy me.  But I could resist.  I found this gem in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday.

Sunday-Telegraph-Lower-Cholesterol

Just before I ditched Paleo and went out to buy some soy and margarine, I thought I’d see if I could find out a bit more about the study.

So it appears the study split 351 men & post menopausal women into two groups for the six-month period.  One ate low fat, the other low fat – with “special cholesterol lowering foods”.  Hmm, interesting, low fat compared to low fat…  The group with the special cholesterol lowering foods lowered their LDL by 13%.  But then there was also a 22.6% drop out rate.  This is taking me back to Tom Naughton’s Science for Smart People lecture at the AHS…

The group with the “special food” also received sessions with a dietitian.  The other low fat group did not.

They summed up saying that because the diet was complex, researchers couldn’t tell which foods made a difference in lowering cholesterol.  Excellent.  Regardless, write ups of the study, like the one I saw are still identify these foods as being proven to help lower LDL: –

  • Soy proteins such as soy milk and tofu.
  • Viscous or “sticky” fibres from oats, barley and psyllium.
  • Nuts, including tree nuts and peanuts.
  • Plant sterols in margarine.

Whilst Loblaw (a Canadian food retailer), Solae (who sell Soy products) and Unilever (who own lots of products, including margarine) sponsored the study and provided some of the foods used, that obviously had no impact on the study.  Whatsoever.

I think I’ll stick to my high fat diet…

Soy, Grains & Margarine for Better Health newspaper Telegraph paleo diet health advice-min