Holford believes that meat and dairy foods are “devoid of essential fats”

Oh dear. Holford is blogging much more quickly that we could hope to point out his mistakes. However, one error of note in a recent post is Holford’s reference to “foods rich in saturated fats and devoid of essential fats (meat and dairy produce)”.

I thought it was common knowledge that most meats will contain at least some ‘essential’ fats: meat can, for example, make a useful contribution to omega 3 intake. I certainly wouldn’t suggest using red meat, pork or poultry as one’s main source of ‘essential’ fats, but meat can contain useful amounts of these fats. One would hope that any expert in nutrition would know this.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Holford believes that meat and dairy foods are “devoid of essential fats”

  1. Undrande

    I might be wrong here but I seem to recall a number of papers that show that the risks with saturated fats are a bit blown out of proportion and that they are not significantly worse than mono- and polyunsaturated fat acids and thus making them “essintial” aswell. If this is the case he might be even more wrong…

  2. nodrande

    Meat does in fact contain polyunsaturated fatty acids but the ratio of different fats appear to have changed dramatically due to farming techniques. I think you are right about satuarated fats given a bad press but you cannot label them ‘essential’ due to your cells being able to manufacture them.

    Admin edit: agreed, ‘essential’ does seem to be being used appropriately as the technical term for fats/substances that we do not manufacture for ourselves.

    The omega 3 content of milk from grass-fed cows can vary with the variety of grass and the season as well as the make-up of their forage.

    One of the post links is to an item about omega 3 from meat sources. A study in Australia reports that meat is an important source of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids..

    Meat is a major source of LCn3PUFA, particularly DPA, for most Australians. When DPA is included in the definition of LCn3PUFAs, almost half the average adult intake of LCn3PUFA appears to originate from meat sources.

  3. UK RD

    There are two essential fats we need in our diet – linoleic acid or LA (an omega-6 polunsaturate), and alpha-linolenic acid, ALA, and omega-3 polyunsaturate. We need both in our diet as we can’t make them ourselves. Both are available in animal fats, given that the animal has eaten plant based foods that contain these fats – or we can get them from vegetable oils and products made from these – eg frying your rump steak….
    In addition, animal fat provides an interesting saturated fat called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, which may have an effect on fat metabolism and body fat deposition.

    How fortunate that if you buy into another Holford Myth about meat, you can buy CLA in supplement form as MicroCell Lipotone Intensive at his pill pushing site http://www.totallynourish. com. Only £48.89 – or £1.74 a day. Bargain.

  4. nodrande

    I think the jury is out on the benefits/effects of CLA on metabolism and weight management.
    What vegetable oil are we talking about? Heating ALA to frying temperatures is probably not a good idea when done on a regular basis. To prevent the chemical changes it would be better to fry with a saturate like butter or cocconut butter, as altered fats appear to disrupt the enzyme system needed for fatty acid conversion.
    It is also worth noting that frying steak in vegetable/sunflower oil will provide or be converted into arachidonic acid that if is incorperated excessively in cell membranes may have a detrimental effect in certain individuals.
    Increasing omega 3 in the diet does seem to have some protection against excessive AA conversion into pro inflamatory leukotrines etc.
    As i mentioned earlier farmed animals do appear to have different ratios of these polyunsaturates than animals we evolved to eat due to modern farming techniques.

  5. Thanks for all the comments. Flag up lots of interesting complexity, which is sadly missing from the story that Holford tells.

    Re links between an animal’s diet/lifestyle and the make-up of its fat, I was surprised to find that – unless I’m missing something – there is less good quality research on this than one might expect.

  6. nodrande

    It is a shame Holford always tries to simplify subjects that are clearly extremely complex. Manipulating fatty acid pathways is no doubt differcult to get right for each indvidual.
    Holford does appear to concentrate on telling small lies to sell his supplements. Tell the public they cant possibly eat enough essential fatty acids and bingo they will buy your fish oil.
    How does he know that massivley increasing EPA, DHA levels is right for certain indivduals without carrying oout a cell membrane test.
    I beleive that many nutritionists think that everyone is depleted in ALA where I have read some great studies suggesting that it is the good quality LA that people are deficient. Increasing EPA might not then be a good idea until LA is increased.
    There is clearly lots to learn.

  7. nodrande

    Fatty acids in muscles and liver of Tunisian wild and farmed gilthead sea bream, Sparus aurata link

    heres a study I found that shows that diet heavily effects fatty acid status.
    I would also suggest Holford bears in mind that massivley increaing polyunsaturates in individuals without adequate antioxidant protection (enzymes, phytonutrients etc) might be an issue. He never seems to mention this.

    Admin edit: popped in a link.

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