Category Archives: coconut

Saturated fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates

“You catch more flies with honey…”

^^^good policy in general, but especially for debating in the realm of nutritional sciences.

 

A short while back, Nina Teicholz discussed low carb ketogenic diets and plant-based diets with John Mackey.  Although I disagree with the dichotomy (keto vs. plant-based), it’s well-worth a watch:

 

 

Three topics that could not be avoided in such a discussion: saturated fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates.

 

 

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Vegetable oil fatty acids are not essential. 

They are conditionally essential at best, only if docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is lacking.  We can’t synthesize omega 3 fatty acids, and indeed they do prevent/cure certain manifestations of “essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency” (Weise et al., 1958), but DHA can do all that and more.  Not that I recommend this, but a diet completely devoid of 18-carbon vege oil fatty acids will not produce EFA deficiency in the presence of DHA. (“vege,” rhymes with “wedge”)

Essential fatty acid metabolism

 

The “parent essential oils” are linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  The others, which I think are more important and the truly “essential” ones are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), arachidonic acid (AA), but mostly just DHA.

The first manifestation of EFA deficiency is dermatitis (Prottey et al., 1975).  Some people say LA is necessary to prevent this, but it would be better phrased as “LA prevents dermatitis;” not “LA is necessary to prevent dermatitis.”  All of the evidence suggesting LA is essential is in the context of DHA deficiency.

Technically, we can convert a bit of ALA to DHA, estrogen helps, testosterone doesn’t (women have better conversion rates)… and I’d speculate that the reverse is probably easier (DHA –> ALA).

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Ketosis in an evolutionary context

Humans are unique in their remarkable ability to enter ketosis.  They’re also situated near the top of the food chain.  Coincidence?

During starvation, humans rapidly enter ketosis; they do this better than king penguins, and bears don’t do it at all.

Starvation ketosis

 

Starvation ketosis

Humans maintain a high level of functionality during starvation.  We can still hunt & plan; some would even argue it’s a more finely tuned state, cognitively.  And that’s important, because if we became progressively weaker and slower, chances of acquiring food would rapidly decline.

Perhaps this is why fasting bears just sleep most of the time: no ketones = no bueno..?

Observation: chronic ketosis is relatively rare in nature.  Angelo Coppola interpreted that to mean animals may have evolved a protective mechanism against ketosis (if you were following along, please let me know if this is a misrepresentation).

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Insulin, dietary fat, and calories: context matters!

Jane Plain recently wrote a great article about the relationship between insulin, dietary fat, and calories.  There are a lot of data on this topic, which collectively suggest: context matters! 

For example,

Insulin and ketone responses to ingestion of MCTs and LCTs in man. (Pi-Sunyer et al., 1969)

14 healthy subjects, overnight fasted; dose: 1g/kg.

In brief, MCTs are more insulinogenic than corn oil.  But it’s not a lot of insulin.  Really.  Enough to inhibit lipolysis, perhaps, but that’s not saying much… & certainly not enough to induce hypoglycemia.

Pi-Sunyer MCT Corn oil

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Fish, dark chocolate, and red wine.

Fish oil fatty acids: EPA & DHA.

I’ve read that EPA tends to show slightly better results in outcomes related to mood, whereas DHA tends to be slightly better for cognition.  Not mutually exclusive; probably a lot of overlap.  This meta-analysis by Martins showed EPA fared better than DHA for depressive symptoms (2009); another one here, stressing the high %EPA relative to %DHA necessary for improvements (Sublette et al., 2011).  Whereas the reverse is true for certain cognitive outcomes in this study by Sinn and colleagues (2012).  Very few studies test EPA vs. DHA directly, and their effects on metabolism are relatively similar.  They’re the ball bearings of fatty acids.epa dpa dha

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Going Dutch on Dark Chocolate

During the production of dark chocolate, cacao beans are fermented, roasted, and processed into 3 components: chocolate liquorcocoa butter, and cocoa powder.  These are combined in various proportions to make unsweetened chocolate.  Sugar can be added to make dark chocolate, or milk & sugar added for milk chocolate.  White chocolate has no cocoa; it’s essentially cocoa butter, sugar, and milk.

ChocolateManufacturingChart

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Ketosis: anti-brain fog. Neurotransmitters, dietary protein, and the gut microbiome.

Treatment for dietary protein-induced brain fog: dark chocolate with 3% GOS and 10% MCTs.  Who’s in?

#IntermediaryMetabolism (bear with me here)
Ketosis from liver’s perspective:  increased fatty acid influx & [partial] oxidation causes acetyl-CoA levels to rise dramatically.  Concomitantly, gluconeogenesis redirects oxaloacetate (OAA) away from combining with acetyl-CoA via TCA cycle citrate synthesis and toward gluconeogenesis.  Since the acetyl-CoA doesn’t have much OAA with which to couple, it does itself to make acetoacetate.  Ergo, ketosis, and fortunately liver lacks ketolytic apparatus.

ketosis

 

Brain is singing a different tune.  Ketones provide ample acetyl-CoA and are efficiently metabolized in the TCA cycle.  Ketolysis is not ketogenesis in reverse, else liver would consume ketones.keto metabolism

Teleologically speaking (and I don’t really know what that word means), ketones are meant to spare glucose for the brain by replacing glucose as a fuel for peripheral tissues like skeletal muscle and displacing some brain glucose utilization.  The former is vital as one of the few sources of “new” glucose is skeletal muscle amino acids, and they would be exhausted in a short amount of time if skeletal muscle kept burning glucose –> incompatible with survival.  Getting some of that fuel from fatty acids, ie, ketones, is just way better.  Thus, the “glucose sparing effect of fat-derived fuel.”  And by “glucose,” I mean “muscle;” and by “fat-derived fuel,” I mean “ketones.”  There are numerous intracellular signaling events and biochemical pathways pwned, but that’s the gist of it.

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All my organs hurt and I think I’m going blind.

People, this is how you should eat.

There have been a lot of diet postings lately, and they are some of the healthiest diets you could imagine.  Please click the links to get the full versions, which include lifestyle tidbits, other pearls, and WHY.  And take notes.  I’ve just listed some of the foods here for the sake of brevity (and as an excuse to link to the diets).

Disclaimer: all of these diets fall somewhere on the “low carb” spectrum.  I don’t eat low carb because I have to*, I do so because it’s healthy, convenient for my lifestyle, and I rather like the foods.  *I say I don’t “have to” because I have no underlying health problems or carb-sensitive GI issues.  The people below are also far healthier than most (from what I can gather)… but if you are overweight &/or obesity-prone, or glucose-intolerant &/or diabetic, then you might want to consider following any of them.

Hyperlipid (Petro Dobromylskyj)The Optimal Diet
butter, egg yolks, cocoa, dark chocolate, macadamia nuts, sour cream, beef, green veggies.  His stats: BW stable, 28” waist, greying beard.  Peter will outlive us all.  And take over the world if he ever has the desire to do so.

Anna Fagan (Lifextension): Low Carb Paleo, probably keto
eggs, butter, avocado, cheese, shrooms, bacon, salmon, tea, coffee, nuts, sardines, lamb, pork, eggplant, cream  –> “high fat =/= fat.”  She’s currently off studying paleoanthropology somewhere in Turkey (?).

Jane Plain (ItsTheWooo): Ketogenic
cream, sour cream, nuts, butter, beef & fatty meats, pepperoni.  She, too, is rather fit.  The Scribble Pad = diet & lifestyle vs. psychoneuroendocrinology & metabolism (mixed with equal parts humor & gravitas).

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MOA of MCTs – black magic or something less?

MCTs provide a respectable boost in diet-induced thermogenesis (in some studies [eg, Kasai 2002  & Clegg 2012], but not others [Alexandrou 2007]), but I don’t think that’s what does it.

The alternative?  MCTs aren’t “linoleate.” (sorry for lack of suspense)

Alcohol + MCTs vs. corn oil (from Kirpich 2013):

Kirpich

Further, feed rats a diet rich in either coconut oil, olive oil, safflower oil, evening primrose oil, or menhaden oil… and eventually the fat stored in their bodies reflect those fats – eg, linoleate only accumulated in the tissues of those fed safflower & evening primrose oils (Yaqoob 1995) (expect similar results with soybean & corn oils).

Researchers constantly refer to MCTs & coconut oil as “saturated fats,” but I always thought the chain length should be recognized.  Perhaps.  But with regard to certain benefits (eg, hepatoprotection), perhaps not.

Cacao butter has a lot of stearate (a fully saturated 18-carbon fatty acid) but not much linoleate or MCTs.  This linoleate may very well be more of a detriment than stearate or MCTs are a benefit… (with regard to certain benefits [eg, hepatoprotection])Beef and chocolate

(Leslie Roberts, 1988) (she’s talking about stearate)

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Alcohol-proof your liver. SFAs.

it probably has other benefits, too. 

Tissue lipid turnover, adipose vs. liver.

Can the saturated fat & MCTs in dark chocolate & coconut oil protect liver against the ravages of alcohol?  Tonight?

The studies discussed in “The liver is evil but need not be punished.  SFAs”  entailed chronic alcohol feeding in combination with a high saturated fat/MCT diet – the animals were given a liquid diet of complete nutrition and a LOT of booze.   Not very applicable to humans, imo [hopefully].  Which brings up the question: how long does it take for coconut oil & dark chocolate to flex their hepato-protective muscles?

wine and dark chocolate

Fortunately, [if tissue fat composition is in fact the relevant protective factor], unlike adipose fat which hangs around for years (Beynen et al., 1980 & Katan et al., 1997), liver fat appears to turn over quite rapidly.

For example, a single shot of radiolabeled oleate is cleared out of the liver within a few days, whereas it lingers significantly longer in adipose of rats (Iritani et al., 2005).  And this is actually enhanced in rats fed a higher fat diet.fat-free diet

Similarly, a study on diet-induced changes in liver fat in humans showed that after only 3 days of low carb dieting, liver fat significantly declined in 5/10 patients, and in all of them by day 10 (Hollingsworth et al., 2006):liver fat time course

Shoutout to Mike Eades for directing me to this study.  Whatever happens after 3-10 days, I suspect, will reflect the new dietary pattern – you are what you eat?  :/

I don’t put too much stock in generic nutrition textbooks, but those data are rather close to estimates put forth by Frayn, Arner, and Yki-Jarvinen (2006, free full text):Frayn

Translation: while a single meal of dark chocolate and coconut oil may not acutely protect the liver from alcohol [tonight], a few days’ worth just might.

Others?

Red meat.   While the saturated fat content of red meat is expected to similarly bolster liver resistance to oxidative stress, another component – carnitine (of the recent TMAO infamy) – may also provide some benefit by enhancing liver fat turnover (Kepka et al., 2011 sorry no full text, so only in theory).  Taurine, also found in red meat, also prevents some alcohol-induced liver pathologies [in rats] (Kerai et al., 1998 & Pushpakiran et al., 2005).

Coffee, too (Gallus et al., 2002Tverdal et al., 2003; Klatsky et al., 2006; Lopez-Garcia et al., 2008Sugiyama et al., 2010).  Probably has more to do with prevention of lipid peroxidation via antioxidant polyphenols.  just sayin’     …compared to the SFA’ers, would those on a high PUFA diet benefit more from coffee in this regard?

The culprit isn’t red meat or TMAO, its cigarettes & sedentary obese HFCS PUFA empty calories – the bona fide confounding factors in most anti-nutrition propaganda.

calories proper

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