Oils and Fats News October 2014

The saturated fat debate

An informed measured response to recent articles about saturated fat and coronary heart disease has recently been published on the Otago University health matters website. The recent review and meta-analysis by Chowdhury et. al. created a great deal of controversy. The Otago researchers, long experienced in this field, have reiterated the advice that reducing saturated fat in the diet with unsaturated fats has a beneficial effect and lowers incidence of mortality from this disease.

The National Heart Foundation are currently reviewing their conclusions on saturated fat and also have just reviewed the evidence on coconut oil in the diet. A shortened version of the first part of the report appears elsewhere in this journal


A quick update: Here is some interesting correspondence to this article

Hello Laurence,
Thanks for the O+F Newsletter. I noted the item about saturated fats in the diet, always a contentious issue. I think one of the problems about giving advice on components of the diet is that the public always interprets it as good or bad, eat a lot or don’t eat it at all, and this can lead to too low an intake of specific nutrients and other beneficial substances such as antioxidants and anticarcinogens.

As an example, Dr Ulrika Ericson of Lund University Diabetes Center in Malmö, Sweden have a paper just published in Diabetologia claiming that consumption of high-fat dairy products is associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes. They claim:  “Our observations may contribute to clarifying previous findings regarding dietary fats and their food sources in relation to type 2 diabetes. The decreased risk at high intakes of high-fat dairy products, but not of low-fat dairy products, indicate that dairy fat, at least partly, explains observed protective associations between dairy intake and type 2 diabetes. Meat intake was associated with increased risk of developing diabetes regardless of fat content.”

A report is available here:

Best wishes,
Peter J. Barnes,


Another quick update

I just wanted to send you a quick email to let you know that we just recently released a very comprehensive blog post on What You Should Know Before Shifting to Low Sugar Diet Plan.

Here is the link for the  review:



Natasha Goins

Content Editor | Positive Health Wellness

Diets, obesity and diabetes

Much has been written about the current epidemic hitting the Western world. All this column would like to say is that the craze on new diets like the celebrity endorsed Palaeo diet, continue to have no effect and only make money for the diet creators and authors who write a multitude of books about them. The answer is fairly simple and has been reiterated many times but people do not want to listen. Eat less, eat sensibly and do some exercise. The crazy low fat high carbohydrate push in the late 70’s is now seen as the tipping point for all this latest barminess. There is nothing wrong with fat so long as you limit saturates and have a good omega-3 : omega-6 ratio. A multinational team of researchers has put forward a comprehensive case for recommending dietary carbohydrate restriction as the default intervention in managing diabetes mellitus.
These are a few of the 12 points listed by the researchers and backed up by results of clinical studies:

  • Increase in calorie intake and obesity has been driven by increases in carbohydrate intake.
  • Generally, replacing carbs with protein is beneficial.
  • Triglycerides are controlled by carbohydrate intake more than by lipid intake.
  • Lowering carb intake is the most effective method for decreasing triglyceride levels and raising levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.

Within the review, the researchers draw attention to the fact that the studies, aimed to show safety and effectiveness of a low fat diet in improving heart health, have universally failed to show benefit.

High polyphenol olive oil and the EU health claimOlives-670

At last the IOC has put out requests for proposals to define new testing methods for the “quantification of phenolic compounds content in olive oils for nutritional labelling claims.”

They have belatedly realised that this criterion is at the heart of the olive oil health benefit. EFSA and the EU have allowed a health claim with the proviso that polyphenols are 250 ppm minimum. The amount and the specific phenolic compounds that must be present in olive oil to make the health claim were finally spelled out: “Olive oil polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress,” and “the claim may be used only for olive oil which contains at least 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g. oleuropein complex and tyrosol) per 20 g of olive oil.” The new regulation apparently caused confusion and dissent in Greece where ignorance led to the government not including oleocanthal and oleacein in the list of polyphenols to be included in the total measured polyphenols. The minister responsible for the error was sacked and sentenced to consume poor quality olive oil forever more.


This claim will preclude poor quality or old olive oils where the polyphenol level has declined and also RBD oils where the polyphenols have been refined out.

The NZ olive oil industry has realised that polyphenol levels are an indicator of quality and stability for many years now. Information from Waiheke indicates that most extra virgin olive oils produced in New Zealand have polyphenol levels greater than 250 ppm.



N.B .the Easter show evaluation of NZ olive oils and other boutique oils is due to take place on 18th September and the results should be in the next issue.


So what evidence is available that the Mediterranean diet offers protection against cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory conditions?

oliveoilThe most comprehensive study is the Lyon study (Circulation, 1999) which enrolled 605 middle-aged men and women who had suffered a heart attack. They were split into two groups, a Mediterranean-type diet (supplemented with an Omega-3 rich margarine) and a “prudent” Western-type diet, and followed for 4 years. The results showed that after 4 years, the group eating the Mediterranean diet was 72% less likely to have gotten a heart attack, or died from heart disease.

DSM report on nutrition for the elderly and association with dementia

A new study has found a strong association between baseline vitamin D concentrations and the risk of incident all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The research, suggests that vitamin D ‘sufficiency’ in the context of dementia risk may be in the region of 50nmol/L. High rates of vitamin D deficiency are found among older adults with more two-thirds of the US population not meeting the estimated average requirement (EAR) of vitamin D.

DSM has published a new paper to further characterize the consequences of insufficient vitamin and nutrient supply on the ageing brain. The manuscript, which appears in Nutrition, highlights the contributing factors to the malnourishment of the elderly, which is linked to the progression of pathological events causing Alzheimer’s type dementia. It argues that, to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, neuronal health must be maintained for as long as possible and concludes that the optimal supply of micronutrients plays a vital metabolic role in supporting the normal functioning of the brain. The new research follows a landmark study, published in Neurology, which shows a strong correlation between low vitamin D levels and the risk of developing dementia, further demonstrating the critical importance of micronutrients in protecting the ageing brain.

The paper highlights that a variety of vitamins and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been identified as having essential roles in the metabolism of vital components of a healthy brain and contribute to a myriad of processes, including the synthesis of cell membranes, neurotransmitters, amino acids, amines and steroids that support signal transduction and neuronal health. Energy production in the brain is heavily dependent on several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins C and A, which are essential co-factors in the metabolic processes responsible for the release of energy from carbohydrates.

There are currently 35 million patients being affected by Alzheimer’s type dementia worldwide, and the number is expected to quadruple by 2050. It has recently been estimated that low nutrient, high energy food accounts for over 25% of total energy consumption in people older than 50 years in the United States, and 50 to 70% of the residents in German nursing homes have been found to have an unhealthy level of energy intake. The paper has reviewed a variety of social, economic and health related factors that are negatively impacting the supply of micronutrients to elderly people.

J. Nutr. June 1, 2012 vol. 142no. 6 979-980

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