by Ron Brown, author of The Body Fat Guide
"Ron Brown is a certified fitness trainer who doesn't have an inch of flab on his body. He'll tell you what you can do to become fit and trim too."
TALK TO AMERICA, Washington DC
diet of humans is an interesting topic. Nature demonstrates that each species of
life form is specifically adapted to a particular mode of feeding, based on the
anatomical and physiological structures of that species. In times of scarcity of
food, a species might turn to other types of food for survival. Nevertheless,
the health of the species remains ideally suited to a particular type of food to
which it is constitutionally adapted.
This observation may be applied to humans as well. The evidence suggests that although humans may derive nourishment from a wide variety of foods, not all of these foods may be within our best interests physiologically. Such is the case with foods high in animal protein.
The work of researchers such as Dr. T. Colin Campbell of Cornell University has demonstrated that a diet high in animal protein is correlated with higher incidences of cancer and cardiovascular disease in humans. Why is it that animal protein raises cholesterol levels and produces diseases like arteriosclerosis? The latest research suggests that foreign proteins absorbed into the blood, such as undigested animal proteins and other toxic substances like sodium chloride and toxins from cigarette smoke, cause inflammation in the endothelium of the blood vessels, which eventually leads to hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Heated cholesterol produces oxysterols which have been shown to also harm the endothelium of blood vessels.
Two interesting questions are derived from examining this research: What makes a food high in animal protein and oxysterols, and what role does saturated animal fat play in causing disease?
The French Paradox
Looking first at the role of animal fat in producing disease, one comes across a contradiction to the conventional wisdom: the French Paradox. If eating animal fat produces heart disease, why do the French, who eat plenty of saturated animal fat, have lower rates of heart disease?
The explanation that is consistent with the research on animal protein is that the French consume animal fat largely in the form of butter and cream, which is very low in animal protein. If butter and cream are used fresh without heating, they are also low in oxysterols. When considering the overall diet of the French, one sees that it is much lower in total animal protein and oxysterols then the Western diet, even though it is higher in animal fat.
Similar to aspirin, red wine is reported to make blood platelets less sticky and thus less likely to form blood clots that cause arterial obstruction leading to strokes and heart attacks. Even so, wine has not been reported to directly reduce arteriosclerosis and cholesterol levels. However, since wine contains no animal protein or oxysterols, while pasteurized milk does (Herzallah, 2005), wine may indirectly lower cholesterol levels because significantly less animal protein and oxysterols are included in one's diet when one drinks wine at meals instead of pasteurized milk, as do the French.
This does not mean we should start drinking wine; rather, it implies we might be better off drinking less milk! But, before striking out animal-protein foods altogether, such as milk, meat and eggs, it is best to analyze how much animal protein and oxysterols these foods contribute to one's diet. One can then decide how much of these foods, if any, to eat.
|As pointed out in: Maintaining
Healthy Bodyweight on a Raw-food Diet, it is instructive to analyze
the nutrients in one's diet according to calorie intake. The
following table shows how meat, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs increase the
percentage of calories from animal protein in one's diet.
The implications from an analysis of this table's data are quite startling! Note that butter, high in saturated animal fat and considered one of the worst of foods for increasing heart disease, is actually less than one-half of one percent animal protein by calorie. This is consistent with the explanation of the French Paradox. Nevertheless, as cholesterol in fresh butter is heated in cooking it accumulates oxysterols (Seckin & Metin, 2005). See Unplug Your Stove to Unplug Your Arteries.
Next, notice that milk (cow's milk) is as high as beef in percentage of calories from animal protein. Ironically, as the fat content in beef and milk are reduced, their percentages of animal protein by calorie increase! In other words, if animal protein is the disturbing factor that causes arteriosclerosis, then having a 3-ounce lean-beef hamburger with a higher percentage of animal protein may be worse for your heart than a 3-ounce regular-fat burger!
This is supported by evidence from the Canadian and American Heart Associations that shows cholesterol levels are not significantly reduced simply by substituting low-fat versions of animal foods in one's diet. The research of Dr. Dean Ornish shows that one must eliminate animal foods altogether, or at least, as Dr. Campbell's research shows, reduce one's intake of animal protein. Low-fat animal foods do the opposite—they actually increase the percentage of calories from animal protein!
Finally, to drive home the point, consider the staple animal foods of dieters: fish, tuna, turkey, skinless chicken breasts and egg whites. Although these foods are low in calories and fat, the amount of animal protein in such foods is around 80% by calorie!
The recommended amount of protein for an adult diet is about 5% of one's maintenance calorie intake. There are plenty of natural foods one can consume other than animal foods to provide this amount of protein, as well as provide other important nutrients. And, although low-fat animal foods might assist you in keeping calorie intake low for weight-loss purposes, they may not be the best choice for your health.
Weight management comes down to balancing the amount of calories
you eat and burn each day, regardless of what kind of food you eat. Why not
learn to measure and modify your calories in order to get the proper balance?
Then, you can include any food in your diet without being overly dependent on
potentially risky food choices...like animal foods.
Herzallah, S. M. (2005). Influence of microwaving and conventional heating of milk on cholesterol contents and cholesterol oxides formation.
Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 4, 85-88.
for more information