I'm Gene Millen, your host on this website with my wife Bernie. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Ron Winslow has the mainstream medical community scratching their heads.
Mr. Winslow reports,
"A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that the heart risk long associated with red meat comes mostly from processed varieties such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs and cold cuts...and not from steak, hamburgers and other non-processed cuts.
"The finding is surprising to many nutritional experts because both types of red meat are high in saturated fat, which is believed to be partly responsible for increasing cholesterol, and therefore causing heart disease."
In a report that pooled data from 20 different studies from around the world, the researchers found that a four-ounce daily serving of red meat from beef, hamburger, pork, lamb or game wasn't linked to any increased risk of heart disease. There was, however, a small, but statistically insignificant risk of diabetes.
Red meats, such as hamburger, are some of the best sources of heme iron. Heme iron is found only in animal-based foods, is highly bioavailable and easy for your body to utilize.
Hamburger meat packs your meal with nutrients, like iron, vitamin B-12 and protein. Vitamin B-12 is essential for the production of new red blood cells. Without adequate B-12, red blood cells form abnormal shapes, resulting in decreased oxygen delivery throughout your body.
A four-ounce broiled hamburger patty provides nearly three micrograms of vitamin B-12, helping you meet your daily recommendation from one meal. Hamburger is rich in protein, but it's a good idea to select the leanest 90 percent lean to keep fat and calories low.
Protein gives structure to cells, builds lean muscle mass and acts as a backup source of energy when carbohydrates and fat are not available. Four ounces of cooked hamburger meat have more than 30 grams of protein.
Researchers said the findings suggest that people, especially those already at risk of heart problems or with high blood pressure, should consider reducing consumption of bacon, processed ham, hot dogs and other packaged meats that have a high salt content. Salt increases blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
"The conventional wisdom is that red meats have higher saturated fat and cholesterol levels," factors that have made all red meats potential culprits in raising the risk of cardiovascular disease, said Renata Micha, a research fellow in the Harvard School of Public Health's epidemiology department.
"But when you try to separate processed from unprocessed meats, you get an entirely different picture." She is lead author of the study, which appears in Tuesday's issue of the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
The report is the second meta-analysis in recent weeks to question just how much of a culprit saturated fats are when it comes to cardiovascular risk.
In March, a meta-analysis (involving 21 different studies) by a team headed by Ronald Krauss at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, Calif., found that intake of saturated fat wasn't linked to a statistically-significant increased risk of heart disease, stroke or cardiovascular disease.
"That a good cut of red meat might be healthier than a heavily processed serving of other meat," he added, "is intuitive to most Americans. Maybe the science is catching up with the intuitive sense."
For more than thirty years Dr. Atkins has been described as a fraud, charlatan and quack by the medical establishment because of his recommendations to eat plenty of red meat loaded with saturated fat.
The American Medical Association described Atkins diet as a "bizarre regimen." It seems to take the AMA thirty to forty years to catch up with the new research.
In his Article in the New York Times, published in 2002 titled "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" Gary Taubs writes:
"If the members of the American medical establishment were to have a collective find-yourself-standing-naked-in-Times-Square-type nightmare, this might be it.
"They spend 30 years ridiculing Robert Atkins, author of the phenomenally-best-selling ''Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution'' and ''Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution,'' accusing the Manhattan doctor of quackery and fraud, only to discover that the unrepentant Atkins was right all along."
In the saturated fat vs unsaturated fat debate the winner is saturated fat!
The low-fat hypothesis has failed the test of time according to Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
So how did the dietary fat is bad roller coaster get started? Investigative reporter Gary Taub in his insightful and through research report published in the New York Times Magazine explains what happened.
It all began in 1977, says Taub, "when a Senate committee led by George McGovern published its Dietary Goals for the United States, which warned Americans to curb their fat intake to abate a supposed epidemic of killer diseases.
It peaked in 1984, when the National Institutes of Health officially recommended that all Americans eat less fat. The food industry jumped on the roller coaster with a flood of new low fat products to meet the new recommendations. Fat was replaced with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup to replace lost flavor.
Millions were spent on advertising as the low fat train picked up speed. The low-fat message effectively ignores the fact that omega 3 oils and many fats, such as olive oil, and flax oil are good for us.
The link between eating saturated fat and getting heart disease has never been demonstrated although the N.I.H conducted five major studies and spent several hundred million dollars trying to show a connection.
More than two-thirds of the fat in a porterhouse steak, for instance, will improve your cholesterol profile; it's true that the remainder will raise your LDLs, the bad stuff, but it will also boost your HDLs, which can actually reverse the plaque in your arteries.
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