Column #118

Everyone with an interest in a healthy diet should become familiar with Dr. James DiNicolantonio and his publications. His research focuses on cardiovascular health and disease--specifically, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, lipids, antithrombotics, anticoagulants, as well as nutrition and nutritional supplements. He’s a cardiovascular research scientist at the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri and has authored or co-authored over 120 medical publications encompassing opinion pieces, review articles, and systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Many of his publications challenge the dietary guidelines recommended by the medical community and USDA. His publication “The Cardiometabolic Consequences of Replacing Saturated Fats with Carbohydrates or Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fats: Do the Dietary Guidelines Have it Wrong?” is an excellent example based on 39 peer-reviewed studies.

In that report he concludes: “The benefits of a low-fat diet (particularly a diet replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids) are severely challenged. Dietary guidelines should assess the totality of the evidence and strongly reconsider their recommendations for replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.”

Dr. DiNicolantonio explains that based on the fact that fat is the most calorie-dense micronutrient, the 1977 Dietary Goals for Americans called for more carbohydrates and less saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet. The theory was that cutting back on fat would reduce calories, obesity, diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes).

However, since 1977, diabetes and obesity increased as people consumed more carbohydrates (mainly corn syrup). That brings into question the belief that by reducing fat and saturated fat, diabetes and obesity will go down.

Dr. DiNicolantonio is also very concerned that the emphasis on eating carbohydrates and avoiding fat ignored the critical need for a 1:1 balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs). He cites many reasons to minimize the consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids due to their suppression of the immune system, lowering of HDL-C, and increasing the susceptibility of LDL to oxidize. Further evidence indicates a role of Omega-6 in causing prostate and breast cancer.

His dietary summations include:

“Dietary guideline recommendations suggesting the replacement of saturated fat with carbohydrates/Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats do not reflect the current evidence in the literature.

“The increase in the prevalence of diabetes and obesity in the USA occurred with an increase in the consumption of carbohydrate, not saturated fat.

“The public fear that saturated fat raises cholesterol is completely unfounded as the low-density lipoprotein particle size distribution is worsened when fat is replaced with carbohydrate.

“A public health campaign is drastically needed to educate on the harms of a diet high in carbohydrate/sugar.

For Dr. DiNicolantonio’s many reasons and more, my suggestion is to avoid carbohydrates, high glycemic foods, and foods loaded with Omega-6 EFAs. Instead, eat foods that are nutrient dense and diverse, low-glycemic, with equally balanced EFAs.

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

Don’t miss these links for additional reading:

The Cardiometabolic Consequences of Replacing Saturated Fats with Carbohydrates or Ω-6 Polyunsaturated Fats: Do the Dietary Guidelines Have it Wrong? By Dr. James J DiNicolantonio

James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D.

Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute

Historic US and UK Dietary Advice on Fats “Should Not Have Been Introduced” from Science Daily

CardioBuzz: How Bad Is Saturated Fat? by Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Decades Later, Evidence for Diet Guidelines Attacked by Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Saturated Fat Is Not the Major Issue by Aseem Malhotra, interventional cardiology specialist registrar, Croydon University Hospital, London

The Importance of the Ratio of Omega 6 Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids by Dr. Artemis Simopoulos

Balancing Proportions of Competing Omega-3 and Omega-6 Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids (HUFA) in Tissue Lipids by Doug Bibus and Bill Lands

Ted Slanker’s Blood Test by Omega 3 Test