Saturday, April 2, 2011

Smug (but Hopefully Instructive),0,3917224.story

For a game of "spot the inaccurate assumptions", this is a target rich environment (HT:  @dreades):
Love fries but hate the thought of artery-clogging fried food?
**Eating a ton of fried potatoes?  Bad (unless it's an occasional indulgence to remind you of how crappy you feel when overeating carbs and junk oils).  Especially if they are fried in transfats or hydrogenated fats or peanut oil.  My bet?  If you eat your fries, fried in beef tallow, your cholesterol numbers will improve compared to any of the oils that are commonly used now.
A growing number of gourmet restaurants and foodies see a solution to this conundrum in an unlikely source — duck fat. They consider it a healthy alternative to frying foods in pork fat, beef fat or even butter. Duck fat is high in beneficial unsaturated fats, and its chemical composition is closer to olive oil than to butter, they say.
**The evidence that monounsaturated fats are "beneficial" is thin, but there's no reason to believe they are harmful.  They are certainly a better choice than the highly oxidizable frankenfats made from corn and seed oils.  Given the evidence to support the conjecture that saturated fats are harmful is paper thin AT BEST, this whole paragraph is essentially nonsense.
But some experts say health claims about the fat are overstated. Though duck fat is among the healthiest of animal fats, it's still a significant source of saturated fats, said Dr. Freny Mody, director of cardiology for the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.
**It's confusing to talk about food this way - food is either a good source of fuel or one that causes injury.  There's no fat that generates 'health.'  Humans need fat to achieve health, that's what we are made for.  But eating the right food reveals the natural birthright of human health - and eating neolithic junk degrades health.  Again - if you manage your carb intake and eat butter and other saturated fats, your health markers will be superior to those poor uninformed folks carefully avoiding fat but pounding down 300 grams of carbs daily.
Duck fat's popularity has surged in part because consumers are seeking all-natural, locally sourced alternatives to commercially produced items, said Melissa Abbott, culinary insights director with the Hartman Group, a Seattle-area market research firm. Compared with, say, margarine, duck fat has a single, minimally processed ingredient: fat taken from ducks. It's available from local butchers and at farmers markets, though a few national retailers sell it as well.
**And oh by the way, duck fat is also not a neolithic monster like margarine!  Does anyone seriously think that margarine, invented in a laboratory, is a superior form of nutrition?
Abbott said the fat had also gained some cachet thanks to the so-called French paradox — the observation that the French are thinner and have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease than Americans despite enjoying a diet loaded in fat. The paradox has stumped researchers for decades, though some theories chalk it up to a number of characteristics of the French diet — including small portions, lots of red wine, and, of course, the consumption of duck fat.
**It's funny in retrospect to consider "the French paradox".  If you assume that eating fat is bad for your heart, and then observe that people who eat more fat have less heart disease, you have a "paradox."  Well, actually you have a bunch of people who, ignoring the fact that they don't know what they think they do, sound truly stupid writing paragraphs like the one above.  The paradox is that after nearly forty years of trying to prove that saturated fat is bad for you, they won't give up that bit of conjecture. 
That belief is based on its composition of saturated and unsaturated fats. According to the National Nutrient Database maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, duck fat contains 62% unsaturated fat and 33% saturated fat.
**My guess is that some of the saturated duck fat is stearic acid, which is converted to oleic acid, the monounsaturated fat in olive oil, early in the digestion process - which is the same reason these people should be championing steak if they think oleic acid is so 'healthy.'  More here.
Saturated fats raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease, said Dr. Karol Watson, co-director of the UCLA Cholesterol and Lipid Management Center.  At 33%, duck fat's saturated fat content isn't terribly low, she points out. In fact, it's on par with chicken fat (about 30% saturated fat) and pork fat (39% saturated fat). All three are better than butter, which is about 51% saturated fat.
**Dr. Karol Watson could not back up her assertions for love or money.  That is simply unproved, and when considering the facts, darned near ludicrous.  Yet, many believe.  Amen.  Saturated fats raise both LDL and HDL, making total cholesterol higher.  But not even the "corelation-ists" view total cholesterol as a convincing forecaster of heart disease - HDL to total, though also poor, is much better than total alone as a predictor.  HDL to total improves when you eat saturated fat.  That's right - Dr. Watson is in reverso world.
Proponents of duck fat prefer to highlight its unsaturated fat content. Studies have linked unsaturated fats — including both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — to lower blood cholesterol levels. Dutch researchers who reviewed 60 studies of the effects of dietary fat intake found that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats reduced levels of bad cholesterol and raised levels of good cholesterol, which in turn decreased the incidence of coronary artery disease by 18% to 44%. Their findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2003.
**Ah yes, a report on the observational studies is obligatory.  While it is true that eating monounsaturated fats lowers cholesterol, every intervention study, and the massive Framingham, failed to show that high fat diets or saturated fat cause heart disease.  That's why the French Paradox isn't paradoxical.  
Duck fat enthusiasts are particularly keen on its levels of a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which olive oil has in abundance. Some research indicates oleic acid may be behind the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet. Many large studies have indicated that the Mediterranean diet — in which olive oil is the predominant source of fat — can lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases of aging.
**Most reports of the so called Mediterranean diet are just hooey.  It hardly exists as it is reported to exist.
But although 40% of duck fat is oleic acid, its content doesn't quite compare with that of olive oil, which is 71% oleic acid, according to a 2007 analysis by University of Wisconsin researchers published in the Journal of Food Quality.  And just because duck fat contains oleic acid — or even a decent amount of unsaturated fats in general — that doesn't override the fact that one-third of duck fat is unhealthy saturated fat, Watson said.  And both saturated and unsaturated fats get incorporated into cell walls, where they affect the elasticity of the vascular system, Watson added. That's why the American Heart Assn. stresses that unsaturated fats are beneficial only when they take the place of saturated fat in the diet, Mody said.
**It's nearly a 100% bet that if you what the AHA says not to do, you'll be healthier for it.  And again, apparently the good doctor doesn't know that stearic acid become oleic acid upon ingestion, which might explain why saturated fats have never been proven to cause heart disease.
All in all, she said, cooking with duck fat may be preferable to cooking with butter, pork fat or beef fat (which contains 50% saturated fat). But it's still nowhere near as healthful as cooking with olive oil or other vegetable oils, such as safflower oil and canola oil. According to the USDA, olive oil contains less than 14% saturated fat, while canola and safflower oil contain less than 8%.
**If you cook with these "healthful oils", safflower and canola (ever wonder why they don't just market 'canola' oil as rape seed oil?) which were never seen on the face of the earth prior to about 1940, you'll get what you deserve.  Pastured butter on the other hand was consumed in ample quantities by very healthy populations and there's simply no reason to avoid real butter - mass produced butter from the industrial food chain, though it must be viewed with the same skepticism as the meat and dairy from the industrial food chain, is still a quantum of goodness above the dwarf mutant wheat, sugar, and seed oil derived frankenfoods most of us have been raised on.
I beg your forgiveness dear reader for giving in to the impulse to sound smug.  Exasperation gets the best of me from time to time.

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