Key Lime Yogurt Pie – Low Carb?

For some reason, this recipe for Key Lime Yogurt Pie has been tweeted and retweeted frequently using both the #lowcarb and #paleo hash tag. But is it low carb or paleo?

The recipe doesn’t provide nutritional information. But we can see it isn’t in any sense “paleo”. The list of ingredients includes items that are certainly not in line with a traditional paleo diet, even if you do include dairy. Ingredients such as fat-free cream cheese, Smart Balance Buttery Spread and reduced fat whipped topping are in no way paleo. These are heavily processed “frankenfoods”. Let’s take a look at the chemical soup in the ingredients:

Fat free cream cheese
Market leader Philadelphia Fat Free Cream Cheese ingredients:
Protein Concentrated Skim Milk, Cultured Skim Milk, Skim Milk, contains Less than 2% of Sodium Tripolyphosphate (Ingredients Not in Regular Cream Cheese) Sugar (Ingredients Not in Regular Cream Cheese)Xanthan Gum, Pasteurized Milk and Cream (Trivial Source of Fat) Salt, Artificial Color (Ingredients Not in Regular Cream Cheese) Carrageenan, Potassium Sorbate (Ingredients Not in Regular Cream Cheese)Calcium Propionate (Ingredients Not in Regular Cream Cheese) as Preservatives, Cheese Culture, Sodium Phosphate (Ingredients in Regular Cream Cheese)Artificial Flavor (Ingredients in Regular Cream Cheese)Carob Bean Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate.

Smart Balance Buttery Spread
Natural Oil Blend (Palm Fruit, Soybean, Canola Seed, and Olive Oils)Water, contains Less than 2% of Salt, Whey, Vegetable Monoglycerides and Sorbitan Ester of Fatty Acids (Emulsifiers)Soybean Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate, Lactic Acid (to Protect Freshness)Natural and Artificial Flavor, Calcium Disodium EDTA, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin E (DL-a-Tocopheryl Acetate)Beta-Carotene Color.

Reduced Fat Whipped Topping
Cool Whip Lite, the market leader’s ingredients:

Quite a list of ingredients there. I couldn’t find the ingredients for Yoplait’s Light Thick & Creamy Key Lime Pie Yogurt, but did find the nutritional information; judging from the carbs in the mix, I suspect we would see a similar chemical soup base if we had the label in front of us.

OK, so its not paleo, but at least it’s low carb, right?

It is not really low carb, but it is lower than the full-sugar alternative. In comparison to a regular slice of key lime pie that weighs in at 58 grams of carbohydrates, I calculate a slice of this pie at a little less than half the carb count at 23 grams (rounded down in the chart below). For someone following a low carb lifestyle, 23 grams of carbs in one food at the table is still probably too high.

The recipe doesn’t specify brand names for some of the ingredients, so I have used brands that are widely available and market leaders in their category. With that caveat, let’s look at the net grams of carbohydrate content in the carby ingredients:

Ingredient Grams in Pie   Grams per Serving
Fat Free Cream Cheese
Key Lime Pie Yogurt
Cool Whip Lite
Reduced Fat Vanilla Wafers

Alert readers may note I didn’t not include the 5 grams of carbs from the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in the recipe, but this is close enough for our little review here. And, you can easily substitute liquid sucralose or Splenda for the sugar.

Can we improve on this recipe even more?

Replacing the “frankenfoods” listed above with real food alternatives like fresh whipped cream and regular cream cheese, we can trim the pie’s carbohydrate count down to 97 grams (17 grams per slice). And substituting out the Vanilla Wafers crust with our own Low Carb Pie Crust reduces the carb count by another 24 grams, to 73 grams of carbs for the entire pie. That’s about 12 grams per slice. That comes close to being low carb enough to earn the #lowcarb hash tag.

I may try this recipe with the almond meal Low Carb Pie Crust linked above, and low carb alternatives. If I do, I’ll publish the results here.

Knockout: Low Carb vs. Low Fat

The New England Journal of Medicine noted the results of a study examining the best way to maintain weight loss:

We enrolled overweight adults from eight European countries who had lost at least 8% of their initial body weight with a 3.3-MJ (800-kcal) low-calorie diet. Participants were randomly assigned, in a two-by-two factorial design, to one of five ad libitum diets to prevent weight regain over a 26-week period:

  • a low-protein and low-glycemic-index diet
  • a low-protein and high-glycemic-index diet
  • a high-protein and low-glycemic-index diet
  • a high-protein and high-glycemic-index diet
  • or a control diet

Low carb diets generally fit into the two “low glycemic index” diets, with most low carbers getting toward the relative high end of protein.

One of the interesting facts about the study is that the low carb dieters adhered to the diet at a much greater rate than their counterparts; the study says about 26% of the dieters eating a low carb variant dropped out, compared to 37% who dropped out of the higher glycemic-index diets. And these were diets where the people could eat until satisfied, not adhere to a limit imposed by the study authors. You would think a diet that allowed you to eat foods rating higher on the gycemic-index would be easier, right?

Not so, and Dr. John Briffa notes the reason:

This helps to explain why individuals who adopt lower-carbohydrate approaches (generally low-GI and usually quite-rich in protein) find they’re less hungry, and eat less as a result. Never mind that – having worked with literally thousands of real people over 20 years I have become convinced that this way of eating really does, overall, trump others (e.g. low-calorie, low-fat) in terms of sustainable weight loss. And this is why it forms the basis of the advice I offered in my latest book Waist Disposal

I have seen countless individuals get on and off ‘diets’ and therefore suffer cycles of weight loss and weight gain. What is it that causes individuals to default back to their original diet? Lots of things, but one factor that almost always plays a part is hunger. It’s a plain and simple fact that unless forced, individuals tend not to tolerate hunger at all well in the long term.

So which diet was the least successful in maintaining the weight loss? As the study tells it:

In the analysis of participants who completed the study, only the low-protein–high-glycemic-index diet was associated with subsequent significant weight regain (1.67 kg; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.48 to 2.87).

That “low-protein-high-glycemic-index diet” is the standard American diet, with 60 to 70% of calories from foods high on the glycemic index, like whole grains, whole wheat bread, pasta, fruit juices, etc.

For most people, a diet that focuses on adequate protein, higher fat intake and reduced carbohydrates satisfies hunger more. And as Dr. Briffa notes, hunger just isn’t tolerated well. Even if you can eat all the “whole grains” you want.

Your Turkey is Trying to Kill You

Is it too late? Have you eaten your turkey yet? You may have eaten ARSENIC! From the Department of Food Hysteria and Increased Newspaper Circulation:

And today, while people don’t deliberately add the poison to their diet, we still encounter arsenic in our daily lives. It is still used as a pesticide. And we still eat it with our food, especially during holidays like Thanksgiving that make poultry a centerpiece of the celebration.

Most commercial-grade poultry feed today contains an arsenic-based pesticide. Like the Victorians, farmers use the poison because of its ability to improve appearances — in this case because arsenic’s potent effect on blood vessels makes the chicken and turkey we buy look pinker and therefore fresher.

The op-ed in the Los Angeles Times is one of several I’ve read trying to research this issue. Most make claims like the above, but also mention that Perdue Farms and Tyson Farms do not use the feed.

Buried deep in the stories is this:

Further, they add that the arsenic formula fed to chickens and turkeys (organic, bound up with carbon) is not the same as inorganic arsenic, the form considered most dangerous to people. Unfortunately for that argument, researchers have found that as chickens and turkeys metabolize Roxarsone, one of the byproducts is, in fact, inorganic arsenic. A study three years ago at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University found this to occur rather rapidly, as measured by waste products.

You would expect the next statement to be how much of the organic arsenic is metabolized to inorganic arsenic and found in the meat products. While inorganic arsenic does prove to be an environmental hazard, with the possibility of fouling our drinking water near farms, we don’t know how much shows up in the turkey meat. We do know, courtesy of our intrepid journalists, not to eat turkey poop.

Numerous stories state “trace amounts”, “still below the FDA guidelines”, but also state that the FDA guidelines for arsenic in poulty meat to be higher than the guideline for arsenic in drinking water. And, they exclaim, arsenic may be cumulative, so even tiny amounts could be killing you.

But I have not found any references, save one, to the actual tested amounts of arsenic we may be consuming. I find this unacceptable; a journalist should present the facts, and the most important follow-up fact, second only in importance that arsenic may be in our turkey meat, is HOW MUCH?

I have linked the Los Angele Times op-ed because it does state that in some tests, arsenic was found in some parts of chicken in generic brands at 21 parts per million, well over the 2 parts per million allowed by the FDA. No link exists to let us see if the 21 parts per million was a single sample, an outlier, or if most of the chicken tested was under the 2 parts per million, and how far under the threshold it was.

Now, for my part, I want to minimize my exposure to arsenic as much as possible. So I’m glad to know that some of it, however minute, can show up in the poultry meat. What I would like to know is if that small amount makes it into the human bloodstream, or like many toxins, gets processed out of our bodies without harm. It is entirely possible that the arsenic you ingest as a result of poultry does you less harm than taking an Advil does; it could also be a bad thing.

The good news is you can avoid the issue entirely by buying poultry from growers that do not use Roxarsone (the trade name for the most common antimicrobial arsenic compound). These may include organic farmers, “free range” poultry producers (although you should ask them if their feed contains Roxarsone), or the commercial growers that have stated they do not use any asenic, like Perdue Farms and Foster Farms.

Review: Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil

Tropical Traditions is one of leading online sources for virgin coconut oil, used by many low carbers for replacing other plant based oils in cooking. Low carb and paleo blogs have touted the many benefits of virgin coconut oil, from cooking to targeted dietary fat increases.

Tropical Traditions provided a free sample of their flagship product, Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut OilTropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil to LowCarbAge for review purposes. We were under no obligation to post a review, nor were we under any obligation to post a positive review in return for the free sample.

Coconut oil is often used as a replacement for vegetable shortening in low carb recipes, and as a general cooking oil. I use it for stir fry, scrambled eggs, and, one of my favorites coconut oil chocolate bark. It is a bit like butter, in that it melts at about 76°F (25°C), but is solid at lower temperatures. When used in chocolates, the phrase “melts in your hand” has to be taken into consideration (I keep my coconut oil bark in the freezer).

Coconut oil is 92% saturated fat, driving the low fat devotees into spasms of shock and dismay. But the lipid profile of coconut oil provides a hint of why it is prized by those seeking to add high quality fats to their diets:

Fatty acid content of coconut oil
Type of fatty acid pct
Lauric saturated C12
Myristic saturated C14
Palmitic saturated C16
Caprylic saturated C8
Capric saturated C10
Stearic saturated C18
Caproic saturated C6
Oleic monounsaturated C18
Linoleic polyunsaturated C18
Coconut oil contains approximately 92.1% saturated fatty acids, 6.2% monounsaturated fatty acids, 1.6% polyunsaturated fatty acids. The above numbers are averages based on samples taken. Numbers can vary slightly depending on age of the coconut, growing conditions, and variety.

red: Saturated; orange: Monounsaturated; blue: Polyunsaturated

From Wikipedia

Wikipedia lists the methods of production for coconut oil. Tropical Traditions uses the traditional “wet method”, shredding the coconut flesh, extracting the milk, and allowing the oil to separate out from the mixture after about 24 hours. This preserves the slight coconut smell and light flavor desired for Asian curry and stir fry recipes.

In contrast, I suspect my supermarket brand, LouAna Pure Coconut Oil, is produced Coconut Oilusing the RBD (“Refined, Bleached, Deodorized”) method, as it has no fragrance or taste. Tropical Traditions is proud of their processing methods, and show it in a YouTube video, and on their website.

Comparing the two products side by side, the Tropical Traditions certainly looks better (it is the white coconut oil in the glass jar at the bottom right in the image above; the LouAna brand is slightly yellow in color).

LouAna doesn’t share how it is produced. While virgin coconut oil is probably the healthiest alternative, the RBD method seems preferable to some of the other methods. Some coconut oils are hydrogenated to increase the melting point above 76°F, and this process creates trans fatty acids (“trans fat”). The nutrition label in the US shows the grams of trans fat per serving, and LouAna shows no trans fats (and neither does Tropical Traditions, of course!) My personal opinion is that you should avoid trans fats and all partially hydrogenated oils, so check those labels.

Recipes and other uses for coconut oil are plentiful on the web, but the owners of Tropical Traditions, the husband and wife team of Brian and Marianita Shilhavy, have a book with recipes, personal testimonies and more information on coconut oil. The recipes are general and not specifically low carb, but the other information is interesting (Marianita is a Certified Nutritionist/ Dietician in the Philippines). You can receive a free copy of their book with your first order by selecting “Referred by a Friend” and using Low Carb Age’s user ID “6703973”.

Tropical Traditions has produced a great coconut oil for stir frying, baking and, especially, recipes like Asian curry where the slight, delicate flavor of the natural coconut oil is desired. I liked it with my eggs, and I’m eager to try it on steamed vegetables. I found it interesting that the flavor distracted from my pure coconut oil bark recipe, which I like better using the RBD oil from LouAna. But I want to give the unique flavor and scent of Tropical Traditions another chance: I intend to experiment with low carb coconut candies, perhaps combining the chocolate bark recipe with unsweetened shredded coconut. The Tropical Traditions natural flavor might enhance the recipe that way (think: Almond Joy or Mounds candies).

The Truth about Beef

The low carb and paleo world provides a wealth of information on the Internet, and sometimes the information gets amplified in a strange way.  Somewhere on the road to decreasing carbs and increasing protein and dietary fat, cattle got caught in the cross-fire.

If you read most blogs, “grass fed” cattle are the only ones suitable for consumption.  I have no problem with people choosing to eat beef from their local farmer, or deciding to buy the more expensive beef from the health food store.  Many bloggers like the taste of the beef they are buying, and that’s certainly a valid reason to choose it.


But the cost of food is a significant barrier for people looking at changing their diet. Do they have to buy organic vegetables and grass fed beef? If so, they may miss out on some very important health benefits, thinking they may as well not go low carb / paleo if they can’t afford to buy grass fed beef.

Taste and personal preferences aside, the health benefits of grass fed beef are grossly overstated, if they exist at all. The myths surrounding regular, supermarket beef are many, and include:

  • The cattle are fed only corn
  • Corn fed beef has much higher Omega 6 oils
  • Farmers feed cattle “corn silage” in the winter. More corn!
  • Feedlots pump up the cattle with a lot of hormones
  • Corn fed beef has a lot of estrogen you should avoid
  • Cattle are raised in small pens, in inhumane conditions

While it is estimated that 75% of the beef you buy in supermarkets comes from cattle “in feedlots” where they have consumed corn, the majority are raised in pastures before they go to the feedlot. Pasturing cattle is less expensive than feeding them grain.

Donna Covey is my first cousin, and raises cattle on MDC Farms in northern Missouri. I have seen the heifers, cows, and bulls and they look pretty happy to me. She explains how they raise cattle:

Our cattle are mostly grass fed. The cows are given salt and mineral and eat mostly grass and legumes. The calves have mama’s milk, salt and mineral, grass and legumes and are given creep feed for two to four months to increase their rate of gain. (Feeders are placed in the pastures that allow the calves to eat the feed but the cows can’t get to the feed.)

We do not give antibiotics of any kind unless something is sick. Calves are given vaccines for black leg, red nose and other common cattle diseases. The calves are then weaned and sold to someone like Mike’s dad and brother who grass graze them from March/April to November. He gives a few pellets every day to keep them coming up so they’ll be easy to get in when time to sell. They are then sold to a feedlot where they think they’re in 7th heaven because they get all they can eat.

This is the typical way cattle are raised before heading to the feedlot.

Numerous taste tests have shown that people generally like the taste of beef they are used to, and Donna actually prefers the taste of grass fed, home butchered meat (she has eaten it all her life). But she recognizes that the market determines how cattle are fed prior to butchering:

Grass fed beef is leaner, but our cows also get FAT on nothing but legumes and grass. Leaner isn’t always good. Most anyone who raises beef will tell you that the beef will have much better flavor [to most people] if the animal is fed grain for at least four to six weeks before they’re butchered. If they’re fed too much grain, they get too fat and are not as good.

Cows on grass make profitable use of land that is not capable of raising crops and would otherwise be considered waste land.

Feedlots typically keep the animals from 3 weeks to 3 months. The incentive in the feedlot is to increase the meat on the animal in the most economical way, and a diet of up to 70% in grain is used to do this. Hay and silage make up the rest of the diet. The feedlot operators realize that the crowded conditions can work against them with increased injuries, infections and extra costs. They don’t want to keep the cattle any longer than they have to, as time is money.

What are the health differences between grass fed/grass finished beef and beef from cattle spending the last few weeks in a feedlot? As it turns out, not much.

Omega-3 and Omega-3 / Omega-6 Ratios
Modern Paleo blogger Diana Hsieh quotes Skyler Tanner on the amount of Omega-3 in grass fed or grain fed beef: grass fed beef has about 10mg more Omega-3 per ounce than grain fed beef. But at 25mg per ounce, even grass fed beef is not a significant source of Omega-3. Nevertheless, bloggers continue to tout grass fed beef as having “67% MORE Omega-3!” You would have to eat twelve pounds of grass fed beef per day to get your RDA of Omega-3. So while the ratio may be different, it’s a difference without a bit of a health benefit.

Is Omega-6 in beef high? Not at all; Diana points out that a half pound of either type of beef contains just 1.2 grams of polyunsaturated fat.

Recently, I read a blog post where shock and dismay was expressed when it was discovered that a local farmer fed his dairy cows “corn silage” in the winter. The assumption was that silage contributed a significant amount of corn kernels to the cow’s diet. I have seen corn cut for silage, and the corn kernels do not become a significant part of the total. Most of it is the stalk and leaves of the corn plant. As Donna explains:

Corn silage is made from the entire stalk and includes the ear. It is cut while the corn is still very green with the ideal moisture content of the kernels being between 30 and 40%. The ideal moisture for corn harvested after dry down is 16%. The entire stock is run through a silage chopper where it is cut into smaller pieces, then it is packed in a pit or above ground and covered and allowed to ferment before it’s fed. It actually gets hot during this process.

MDC Farms does not produce silage, and feeds their cows hay during Corn Silagethe winter. But silage is about as natural a food for cattle as hay or other grasses. It is easily digested and nutritionally appropriate.

Cattle are full of hormones. Every plant and animal we eat contains them. But many people have concerns that cattle are “pumped up with hormones”, by which they mean they have an unnaturally high level of them and the meat is affected. But as UPMC, affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Health Services, notes, the levels in beef are very low:

While taking steroid hormones at high doses, such as in hormonal replacement therapy, has been shown to increase risk for some cancers, the amount present in meat products is very small by comparison. The FDA argues that residues of additives in beef are negligible in comparison to levels that occur naturally both in cows and humans.

Authorities also point out that steroid hormone levels in beef, whether from treated animals or not, are far lower than those found in eggs or milk. Additionally, these levels are dwarfed by high levels of plant estrogens—or “phytoestrogens”—present in soybeans, wheat germ, cabbage, broccoli, and many other vegetables. Phytoestrogens have also been shown to be hormonally active in people.

How are hormones administered to cattle? Images of corporate farmer villains toting huge hypodermics of hormone soup to inject into cows come to mind, but the reality is that the normal hormone dosage is quite different. A small pellet of hormone, usually estrogen, is inserted below the skin behind the ear, and provides a slow release of estrogen. In the resulting meat, how much estrogen can be measured?

The different levels of estrogen found in beef from cattle raised with or without growth promotants is miniscule.

Note: 3-ounce serving of beef from a steer treated with growth promotants contains 1.9 nanograms of estrogen.

Note: 3-ounce serving of beef from a steer raised without growth promotants, such as certified organic beef contains 1.3 nanograms of estrogen.

A nanogram is one billionth of a gram. For comparison purposes, a 3-ounce serving of potato has 225 nanograms of estrogen.

So even if the farmer uses growth promotant hormones, the rise in estrogen you consume is six tenths of a billionth of a gram.

Livestock Treatment
Cattle are killed so we can eat them. Some people have a moral issue with that, and they are certainly entitled to their opinion. Extremists equate animal life with human life, and you can’t reason with these folks. But most of the rest of us share at least one thing with them: we do not want animals to suffer unnecessarily.

Some animal rights organizations would have you believe that slaughter houses take delight in torturing animals. But a steer or heifer represents a significant investment, and unnecessary trauma before death is avoided. The profit motive ensures this, as bruised meat cannot be sold.

But the ethical dilemma remains for some people. There is no doubt that cattle, like all the animals we eat, feel pain. And it is also true that all animals will die even if we do not eat them.

While its certainly a deeper issue than I intend to deal with here, there is a philosophical idea that animals don’t need to “feel Pain”. I have capitalized “Pain” here to separate it from the mere sensation of pain that animals obviously feel. It is not the unavoidable pain at death that is at issue, but whether the animal is self-aware enough to have mental trauma that death is coming. The “human monster” that tortures an animal creates that mental trauma in the animal, and is not acting like a human would, which is to say he is not acting in a humane way. Instead, he is acting like a cat does with its prey, playing for its own amusement, ignorant or uncaring of the suffering of the animal.

The closer to nature you are, the more you realize that pain is a part of daily life. Things live, and they die. Bones break, infections start, and animals … and their masters … feel pain. It would be nice to think of all animals in nature dying in their sleep peaceably, but the reality is that most wild animals die while being eaten alive in relatively slow process. And that is usually a process with physical pain and the Pain of knowing that death is coming.

The slaughter house is designed to be more humane than that. The videos of animals being slaughtered can seem cruel and pain-filled, but we have done our best to keep the animal ignorant of impending death. And then death comes quickly, with the least amount of time possible before realization that it is imminent. That’s unlike nature, where they are often being ripped apart by a predator or dying a fevered death from infection.

I certainly don’t intend to dissuade people from eating grass fed, grass finished beef they obtain from their health food store or local farmer. The personal preference is all you need to continue doing so, whether its because of taste, or six tenths of a billionth of a gram of Omega-3.

But it is my intention to dispel some of the hype and myths that might prevent someone eating the standard American diet from adopting a low carb / paleo lifestyle. If you are on the fence and fear the cost of grass fed beef will be too much, consider the information above. You do not have to worry about limited supply, or extra cost to eat more animal protein, as the beef in your supermarket is perfectly fine, and healthy.

Personal Pumpkin Pies, Oh My

Last year, I used Laura Dolson’s excellent pumpkin pie recipe to make 2 low carb pumpkin pies. But realizing that my extended family does not share my desire to keep carbs low, I decided to try for something else this year.

I wondered aloud to my wife if there were “mini pie pans” available to which she exclaimed: A Personal Pumpkin Pie!“Tarts!” I thought a “tart” was a women of questionable morals, but found out in foodland there are miniature pies already. Who knew?

She brought home two ceramic tart baking dishes, and I adapted my Nut Brown Crust and Dolson’s low carb pumpkin pie recipe as follows:

Nut Brown Crust

      1 cup almond meal
      1 1/2 Tablespoons soft butter
      1 teaspoon liquid sucralose (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Dump the almond meal into a mixing bowl, put the soft butter in, a teaspoon of sweetener if desired, and dig in with your fingers, mixing it up. You end up with a mixture that is slightly doughy. Coat the tart pans with a light coat of butter and press the mixture into the pans forming the crust. Bake for 6 – 8 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Now, for the filling. This is modified from Laura’s recipe to lower the carbs a bit, but I eliminate the ginger in her original recipe. And the recipe is cut in half to fill only two of these tart baking dishes.

Low Carb Pumpkin Pie

      7.5 ounces organic canned pumpkin (not “pumpkin pie mix”)
      1 egg
      1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
      1/2 teaspoon dark molasses
      1 teaspoon cinnamon
      1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
      1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
      1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Mix the ingredients and pour into the tart pans with the Nut Brown Crust. Put them both in the oven and turn down the temp to 375°F. After 15 minutes, turn the temperature down to 300°. Bake until set in the middle, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 40 minutes more. I was a bit impatient, and one looked like it had been an extra in a slasher movie.

Half of one of these 5″ diameter Personal Pumpkin Pies is a serving, and provides about 5g of Personal Pumpkin Pies!net effective carbs.

They are tasty, and just right for my holiday dessert! Jan tasted a sliver of the pie, so I have a little less than the full serving for my dessert tonight. I forgave her because she made me fresh whipped cream.

Man, I love this diet.

RD Turn-About: Fat Not So Bad

The American Dietetic Association is a low fat bastion, with member dietitians rarely advising patients to embrace a low-carb lifestyle. Doctors routinely refer their patients to Registered Dietitians for guidance, and their advice is normally horrendous. So it was with great interest that I read the news item regarding a presentation at the American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo this month (November, 2010). From a news story in Food Navigator USA:

During a symposium called “The Great Fat Debate: Is There Validity In the Age-Old Dietary Guidance?” at the American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, four leading experts presented evidence suggesting that low fat diets may be less healthy than those containing at least a moderate amount of fat. In particular, all four agreed that replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates – as has been widely recommended in the United States – is likely to raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Emphasis mine. Just thought I’d bold that statement in case any deaf Dietitians were in attendance.

It is not that this is “new news”. The evidence has been mounting, and Low Carb Age has been documenting the end of the low fat diet craze for over a year now. But to have the ADA admit it is a very big deal indeed.

Just to recap some stories in the past year:

Dietary intakes of saturated fats are not linked to cardiovascular disease, so says a meta-analysis of 21 studies from across the world.

Data from almost 350,000 subjects obtained from 21 studies indicated that dietary intakes of saturated fat are not associated with increases in the risk of either coronary heart disease (CHD) or cardiovascular disease (CVD), US researchers report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Our meta-analysis showed that there is insufficient evidence from prospective epidemiologic studies to conclude that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr Ronald Krauss from the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California.

Japanese researchers noted an increase in mortality – that means death, folks – from strokes in those that adopted a low fat diet:

Very low intakes of saturated fats may be just as bad for you as very high intakes, and could lead to an increased risk of death from stroke – according to new Japanese research.

The study, published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that a very low dietary intake of saturated fatty acids (SFA) is associated with an increased risk of stroke.

“SFA [saturated fatty acids – saturated fat] intake was inversely associated with mortality from stroke. This inverse association was similarly observed for intraparenchymal hemorrhage and ischemic stroke,” wrote the researchers.

Some of the stories show the conflicted nature of researchers facing unpleasant results. One study looked at low fat diets and concluded that it was the type of carbohydrates in the diet that were at fault:

People who cut saturated fats while increasing intake of refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta have a higher risk of heart attack, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

However, the Danish researchers found that reducing saturated fats while increasing intake of non-refined carbohydrates – such as wholegrain bread and vegetables – could improve heart health. A recent meta-analysis published in the same journal earlier this year called into doubt the widely held theory that high saturated fat intake is linked to high rates of heart disease – but the researchers behind that review said that other dietary elements of the 350,000 subjects involved could be more important.

. . .

They found a statistically significant correlation between replacing saturated fat calories with refined carbohydrates – those described as ‘high-GI’ and thought to cause a spike in blood sugar levels – and heart attack risk. For those subjects with the highest average dietary glycemic index, heart attack risk increased by 33 percent for every five percent increase in calorie intake from carbohydrates.

See the disconnect? I have emphasized the pertinent passage. They are still preaching the “whole grain breads” line while simultaneously saying that High Glycemic Index (GI) foods should be avoided. Yet whole grain bread often has a higher GI than plain old white bread (average of 62 vs. 59). You can see the official GI of different foods at

Not that the gycemic index should really be a guide. For most Americans, cutting out refined carbs, including all breads, cookies, muffins and cakes, would go a long way toward curing the obesity problem in this country. Whole wheat and whole grain breads are still refined carbs, and spike blood sugar. Wheat may be implicated in numerous health issues due to allergies and sensitivities, sometimes hidden behind nebulous diagnoses of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or PCOS.

Following a true low carb lifestyle, or adopting a paleo outlook to eating, would greatly enhance health while avoiding the hunger that plagues low fat dieters, and may clear up other health issues (as I found with eliminating GERD and insomnia).

Welcome to the club, dietitians!