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The Skinny on Fats, Part II

old message Enjoy Some Nuts Every Day Darrell Miller 11/03/06


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Date: November 03, 2006 04:00 PM
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Subject: Enjoy Some Nuts Every Day

Although high in fat, nuts contain oils that reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Nuts also contain potentially cardio protective components including phytosterols, tocopherols and squalene. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts and macadamia nuts were all found to be good sources of these compounds. Diets that included one or two servings of macadamia nuts a day have been shown in studies done in Brisbane Australia and Honolulu Hawaii to improve blood lipid profiles as effectively as low-fat, complex carbohydrate diets. Furthermore, scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health found that eating nuts and peanut butter reduced the risk of type II diabetes in women. The researchers suggest that nuts might replace refined grain products, and red or processed meats as a way to limit caloric intake.

The Lowly Goober Gets New Respect

Americans eat more peanuts and peanut butter than all other nuts combined. A Pennsylvania State University study of 13,000 men, women and children revealed that peanut eaters have higher intakes of several hard-to-get nutrients compared to those who did not consume peanuts. Peanut butter and peanut eaters have increased levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, Calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and phytonutrients resveratrol, beta sitosterol and p-courmaric acid. What’s more, peanut eaters also had leaner bodies than non peanut eaters. This study helps to dispel the myth that higher-fat foods automatically lead to weight gain.

The peanut Butter Diet evolved from studies such as this that showed the benefits of eating peanuts and peanut butter, particularly their high satiety factor. In one small study, ten health workers aged fifty-plus, consumed 1500 calories healthy and moderate fat (35%) diet that included two tablespoons of peanut butter eaten twice a day. The woman had at least one cardiovascular risk factor – high blood pressure, altered blood lipids or diabetes. Peanut butter was chosen because previous studies at Harvard/Brigham Women’s hospital had shown that over an eighteen-month period, three times as many women stuck with a diet that included peanut butter or peanuts, because of a hunger curbing effects.

Peanuts contain about 2 grams of fiber per tablespoon and when spread on two slices of whole-wheat bread, deliver six grams of fiber. Peanut butter makes some yummy sauces. The barbecued ribs a group of scientists and I prepared during a recent weekend at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone in California’s Napa Valley where the best I have ever eaten.

Tropical Oils

The term refers to coconut, palm kernel and palm oils. These oils contain a variety of fatty acids, but unlike olive, macadamia and peanut oils, which contain high levels of unsaturated fatty acids and are liquid at room temperature; tropical oils have high levels of saturated fats and are solid at room temperature. They are gaining popularity as food manufacturers push to replace hydrogenated oils that contain trans fats. The latest hoopla over coconut oil has been its inclusion in weight loss regimens. Two books featuring coconut products have hit bestseller lists. Moderate increase of tropical oils including coconut and palm appear to improve blood lipid profiles largely because of their high lauric acid content.

The health benefits of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) such as caprylic and lauric have been known for some time. Lauric acid has been found to improve blood lipids and red palm oil is rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene and tocotrienols, the vitamin E active constituent. However, there is concern among some experts that eating to many saturated fats, including the tropical oils used to make trans fat free margarine and shortening, can have deleterious effects on cardiovascular health.

In addition, there are differences in processing palm and palm kernel oils that make some choices unhealthy. According to Dr. Andrew Weil palm oil is a better choice than palm kernel oil because chemical solvents are needed to extract palm kernel oil while none are required to press the oil from palm fruit. Fractionation is used to process palm and palm kernel oil and eliminates many of their natural antioxidants, which makes them the least desirable of the tropical oils. It seems prudent to check ingredient labels for fractionated palm kernel oil and avoid it. Best of all, look for Now Organic Coconut Oil that has an impressive resume for boosting immunity. It also has a distinctive flavor to foods prepared with an eastern Indian theme.




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