NutritionFacts.org

Health Topics

  1. #
  2. A
  3. B
  4. C
  5. D
  6. E
  7. F
  8. G
  9. H
  10. I
  11. J
  12. K
  13. L
  14. M
  15. N
  16. O
  17. P
  18. Q
  19. R
  20. S
  21. T
  22. U
  23. V
  24. W
  25. X
  26. Y
  27. Z
Browse All Topics

Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero

The intake of trans fats which come mostly from junk food and animal products, saturated fat mostly from dairy products and chicken, and cholesterol coming mostly from eggs and chicken should be as low as possible.

December 23, 2011 |
GD Star Rating
loading...

Topics

Supplementary Info

Sources Cited

Acknowledgements

Transcript

Why stop just sprinkling statins on our happy meal, when we can be even more aggressive. Is it time for the polypill? One pill; containing 5 or 6 drugs: A statin, three blood pressure medications—a thiazide, beta blocker and and ACE inhibitor, maybe some aspirin— suggesting even over-the-counter availability. The chance of benefit… may be less than 1% per year and that of side effects 6% overall, some of which, like internal bleeding may be life-threatening, so for those you decide to go with diet rather than the 5 drugs how do you do it?
To lower our cholesterol through diet we need to avoid three things, trans fats, saturated fats, and cholesterol. trans fats are mostly in junk food and animal products
The top food sources of cholesterol raising saturated fat. That quarter pounder doesn’t come in until 8. It’s cheese, ice cream, chicken, then pastries, then pork, reduced fat milk, and then our burger.
Where is cholesterol found in the American diet? #1's not beef. It’s eggs and chicken, and then beef, cheese, pork and fish before getting to cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and ice cream.
How much should reduce our consumption of these foods? What are the tolerable upper intake levels for trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol? “The Institute of Medicine did not set upper limits for trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol because any intake level above zero increased bad cholesterol.”
Here’s trans fat. There’s no level that’s safe. It's like a straight line. The lower the better. “any intake level of trans fat above zero increased LDL cholesterol concentration, the number 1 risk factor for our number one killer. heart disease. And same with saturated fat— “ any intake level above zero” and similar findings for cholesterol. So intakes of meat, eggs, dairy, and junk food should be as low as possible because there is no tolerable intake .

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them.

Also, be sure to check out my associated blog posts for more context: Generic Lipitor is not the answer to our heart disease epidemicBreast Cancer Survival and SoyThe Most Anti-Inflammatory MushroomHow Does Meat Cause Inflammation?Stool Size and Breast Cancer RiskCholesterol Lowering in a Nut Shell,  Biblical Daniel Fast Tested, Do Vegans Get More Cavities?, and Trans Fat in Animal Fats.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And don’t miss today’s accompanying blog post, “Generic Lipitor is not the answer to our heart disease epidemic.”

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/bpcveg/ BPC

      This video presents an argument that appears to contradict another video presented on this website.

      Specifically, it is argued in the present video that foods with any quantity of saturated fat should be eliminated from the diet in order to lower the risk of heart disease.

      By that logic we should eliminate nuts and seeds as they contain substantial contributions of saturated fat. In fact, the data to support this is partially presented in one of the tables that you show in this video, where nuts/seeds appear on the list.

      However, in another video (http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/halving-heart-attack-risk/) it is argued that eating nuts halves the risk of heart disease.

      Therefore, these two videos appear to contract each other.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/rickkartes/ rickkartes

      A sign, I read today at the YMCA, states “The body makes approximately 75% of cholesterol, and the other 25% comes from animal products that we eat.” The subject of the sign is “Don’t be confused by cholesterol!” The source is “Aegis”. Don’t know who that is. My sense is that they are trying to minimize the the perceived affect of eating animal products on cholesterol. Is there more to the story of cholesterol. If the response I get significantly refutes the quote, I will take that information to the YMCA.

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/megann19/ Megann19

        Hello Rick and thanks for your question. I would actually agree with your assessment. That statement seems to make the assumption that everyone eats animal products, and does not make a lot of sense as it is. Cholesterol is made intrinsically (by our own bodies) and is a substance that we need for various biological functions. However, we make all that we need, and do not need any at all from external sources (the food that we eat). If a person has a low cholesterol, and they are not on any cholesterol-lowering medications, it could indicate a serious illness or a state of overall malnutrition (or both), yet it has nothing to do with cholesterol in foods.

    • Jan P.

      Hi Dr. Greg. What about the saturated fat and heart disease link? I’ve read that not all LDLs are bad. According to these sources sugar increases arterial plaque-causing LDL while saturated fat increases benign LDL. Since the lab equipment needed to distinguish between the two is so expensive most experiments have merely shown that overall LDL is correlated with heart disease, leaving us with the question: which specific LDLs are responsible and what causes those specific LDLs to increase?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/MacSmiley/ MacSmiley

    http://youtu.be/1ZrxS7v2FDA

    OK. so this video does not appear on your YouTube homepage, yet the previous Lipitor with your fries video *does*. What’s the diff?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mike-quinoa/ Mike Quinoa

    Having a bit of time on my hands (obviously), I’ve found some links to Dr. Gregers’ mysterious lists/pie chart:

    Major sources of transfats…

    http://www.agingeye.net/maculardegen/qatra2ch.gif

    Top food sources of cholesterol-raising fat…

    http://riskfactor.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/sat_fat/crf.html

    Top food sources of cholesterol…

    http://riskfactor.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/cholesterol/table1.html

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/psiscobr/ psiscobr

    Dr Greger are you familiar with the book Nutrition and physical degeneration by Weston Price? Please let me know your thoughts. That book convinced me that animal fat was actually good and necessary. My Great grandparents living in Brazil lived to be 115 and 102 and they all ate meat, eggs, raw milk from their farm, they never visited a doctor. So I thought to myself, well Weston Price must be right and now I run into all of this contrary research…
    please help me
    Thanks
    Sissy

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/drdons/ DrDons

      Weston Price’s research now many decades old had good intentions. I think the studies have since shown that animal fat is detrimental to health. Can we eat it? Of course. Have alot of folks eaten animal fat and lived to be 100 certainly. However many of those who lived to 100 were never exposed in their early years to the processed food that makes up the standard american diet nor did they consume the quantities they do today. Additionally chemicals have been added to the food chain mainly since world war 2 see: http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/industrial-pollutants-in-vegans/. So I would recommend avoiding all animal fats which are unhealthy and contain many harmful chemicals.

      • Frasier

        Processed food and chemicals found in the standard American diet do not mean that all animal fats are bad. Organic, grass-fed animal fat is one of the healthiest things you can eat, whether you look at “decades old” WP or the most current research.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/vallis/ Vallis

    Dr. Greger, so this video seems to be saying to eat plant based only and no processed food and 0 trans fats. This is very radical talk and go against the whole food set up currently surrounding me and us all. If there were people eating healthy , would they not stand out as being clearly superior physically to others and be a vivid display of the benefit of not eating animal and processed food? Why do vegans often look so pasty pale and meek and lacking in vitality? I would say that the appearance of vegans has been an obstacle for myself switching over easily and sooner. Also the growing obese population has also been a vivid display for me looking to make sure I don’t go down THAT path either.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/thea/ Thea

      Vallis: Hi again. I happened to be skimming comments and came across this other comment by you. I really liked your comment because you pose some honest questions. If you aren’t tired of me yet, I have some thoughts for you.

      re: “Why do vegans often look so pasty pale and meek and lacking in vitality?”
      Whether or not someone looks attractive is of course subjective. But my first reaction to your comment was, “Gosh, who does she/he know? That’s not my experience *at all*.” Have you watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives”? It is available on Netflicks, many libraries and you can purchase it from Amazon. I *HIGHLY* recommend this documentary. I think it will answer a lot of your questions and it is spell-binding. Anyway, this movie has real-life people examples in addition to information on scientific studies. This movie shows vegan body builders and firemen and triathlon people and marathon runners. They all looked great to me.

      Also, you might consider some day signing up for Dr. Bernard’s 21 day KickStart program. Each day you will get an e-mail to a webpage. The webpage not only has meal plans and recipes, but it has inspirational words and tips from vegan: body builders, actors/actresses, athletes, doctors, and professional models. Maybe the “face of vegan” would change for you after seeing all these real-life examples of vegans.

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/TanTruong/ Tan Truong

        Thea, thanks for this responses. I hear it all the time: “I know X amount of vegans and they look skinny and unhealthy”.

        I always wonder how some meat eaters know so many more vegans ( less than 1% of US) than I.

        Anyone on any diet can look or be unhealthy, and yes it’s definitely subjective… to a certain extent. I know a lot of meat eaters who are obese and they look unhealthy. I’m not sure that’s very subjective though.

        • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/thea/ Thea

          Thanks for feedback Tan!

          Also, I can testify from personal experience that not all vegans are skinny. :-(

          • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/TanTruong/ Tan Truong

            I know some vegetarians that are obese. We all have to find our way somehow. :)

          • HemoDynamic, M.D.

            I know some Vegans that are morbidly obese.  I’ve seen them at Dr. McDougalls!  Remember Oil is Vegan!-}  YUM!!

          • Natural Health Cafe

            I belong to a vegan group in my area and I can verify that all vegans come in different shapes and sizes. I would like to share that a newer member that I met a few months ago lost her husband a little over a year ago after he recovered from a heart attack and surgery, then succumbed to cancer and died a couple years later. It shook her up and she had a nursing background and knew their coach potato lifestyle was not a good one. So after much research and reading of the China Study, McDougall Program, Engine 2, Forks over Knives, and Neil Barnard’s PCRM she went vegan, lost 70 pounds over this past year and looks and feels great in her mid 50′s. So yes, people that eat a whole foods plant-based diet can slim down and look and feel great. We have been hiking together this month and she is in great shape and planning to do some backpacking.
            I just interviewed an Registered Dietician this past week and she is a competitive marathoner and triathlete. Talk about a healthy looking, thin and strong looking lady. They motivate me to get stronger, so I am off to the gym. Best to you! :)

        • omnimatty

          I have been vegan for 2 years now, and have yet to meet a vegan :)

          • barbarabrussels

            I haven’t met any vegans either, maybe next time someone looks unhealthy I’ll ask them if they’re vegan, not.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/thea/ Thea

      Vallis: This is part 2 of my reply to you.

      You also wrote: “If there were people eating healthy , would they not stand out as being clearly superior physically to others and be a vivid display of the benefit of not eating animal and processed food?”

      I think those are valid points/questions. And the answer is : Yes. And Yes They Do! If you watch more videos on this website, you will see that people eating a primarily whole plant food diet that is supplemented with a vitamin B12 (and maybe vitamin D), *absolutely* do have superior health compared to the rest of humanity. Such people are far less likely to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc, etc, etc. The areas of health abound. There are no guarantees in life, but if you wanted to maximize your potential for a long healthy life, you would be doing yourself a favor by eating a whole plant foods diet. This isn’t my opinion. This is what the science says.

      Don’t take my word for it. Watch more videos on this website. You might also consider watching the Forks Over Knives documentary that I mentioned in my previous post.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/thea/ Thea

      Vallis: This is part 3 of my reply to you.

      You wrote: “This is very radical talk…”

      I can see why you would think that. It is certainly different from the Standard American Diet (SAD – how very sad). And I know that there are a lot of people who are still not educated about nutrition. But that doesn’t mean that this diet is “radical”.

      Yahoo just came out with an article that talks about vegan diets being mainstreamed. In addition, people highly educated in nutrition science have been advocating (and living) this diet for many years.

      A co-worker of mine (who is a social worker now) mentioned that he learned about a lot of this stuff when he went to school 30 years ago. As Dr. Gregor says in the introduction one of his DVD’s, the big picture, the scientific recommendations/body of information on good nutrition has largely been unchanged for decades.

      Yes, there is a LOT of conflicting information out there on nutrition. This makes it very confusing for mere mortals like you and me to know what to do. In the end, all you can do is research to the best of your ability, and then do what you think is right. That is the journey I have taken over the last couple of years, and I am so very glad I took the time to educate myself.

      Good for you for trying to educate yourself. I wish you all the luck.

    • mbglife

      A diet has to be healthy. I could eat deep fried soy-cheese on white bread sandwiches all day. It would high in calories and very low in nutrients. But if you want to see real examples of what people could look like on a strict vegan diet, check out some of the Firehouse Diet and Engine 2 Diet books. When you see photos of those robust, muscular firemen who are eating a nutrient-dense vegan diet, you’ll get the picture.

      I went vegan decades ago after reading a Pritikin diet book. I was ready because at meals I would wonder if the animal on the plate had cancer or was full or hormones. Sometimes it even made me gag. At first, I still ate a lot of junk food, but I eventually learned. Those changes were the best things I have ever done for myself and might have saved my life.
      Wish you the best of health.

      Mark

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/bpcveg/ BPC

    I think it would be helpful if this website provided some information on the different types of saturated fats and their differing effects on heart disease.

    Even on a well designed plant based diet, it seems virtually impossible to completely eliminate saturated fat intake since beneficial plant foods like nuts and seeds also contain some saturated fat.

    According to a recent book ‘Becoming raw’ (2010) by two experts on vegan nutrition, namely, Davis and Melina, saturated fatty acids differ depending on the length of their carbon chain and include lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid. These saturated fatty acids are present to different extents in different foods and contribute differently to blood cholesterol profile and ultimately to heart disease. After reading this book, I was left with the impression that the effect of different types of saturated fats on heart health is complex and unresolved.

    Please comment.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/megann19/ Megann19

      The jury is still out on the issue of saturated plant fats. Everyone agrees that artificially created saturated fats, such as the partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats) are very deadly. However, you are absolutely correct about nuts and seeds, which are are very nutritious. There are many examples of saturated fats that come from plant foods which either have a neutral effect on heart health or a beneficial effect, overall. In my opinion, the fats to avoid are the trans fats, and too much of the oils that contain high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids like corn, safflower and sunflower oil. Otherwise, I do not advise my patients to avoid any other types of fats (besides saturated animal fats of course). I only tell them to keep in mind that fats are more calorie dense, particularly if weight control is a concern.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/louisa/ louisa

    I’m also confused by this seemingly contradictory advice. You’re recommending 0% saturated fat, and yet olive oil is 17% saturated fat; sesame oil is 10% saturated fat; canola oil is 3% saturated fat.
    Let’s say someone recommends a diet of no more than 5% saturated fat. Is the saturated fat in plant oils (such as the ones listed above) counted in that 5%?
    Thanks for all your great work!
    Louisa

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/megann19/ Megann19

    Hi Louisa, The question directly above yours was very similar; see my answer/comment. The types of saturated fats to avoid are animal fats and trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils, and in many cases the label will list “hydrogenated” without specifying if that oil/fat is partially or fully hydrogenated. Yet in most cases those are also partially hydrogenated though the manufacturer did not disclose that).

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/wickedchicken/ wickedchicken

    Vegan diet + egg whites (no yolks) …. Bad idea? I’m not seeing why it would be??? for ethical reasons yes. But health reasons???

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/wickedchicken/ wickedchicken

    Thank u for an amazing answer :)

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please also check out my associated blog post, Breast Cancer Survival and Soy!

  • Robert

    Dr. Greger, Assuming one eats a strictly plant based diet, is there an optimal amount of total dietary fat for preventing cancer or slowing the progression of cancer? Thank you Dr. Greger. You are providing a very helpful service!

  • Terri

    What about oils? I am trying to lower my cholesterol with diet. I am not eating any meat, dairy, fish, eggs, etc., but I do have a slight amount of oil. Olive oil, coconut oil and just a tad of canola oil in a salad dressing. Is this acceptable or should I get rid of oil 100%? Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.chornbarr Andrea Chorn Barr

    I have just ‘liked’ your facebook page. Thank you for all your information! I am aware that you are pro-vegan, however I am unsure as to what these studies of naturally occurring trans fats in animal products are based on. Can I assume that the meat and dairy products used in the studies came from factory farmed, crowded and stressed animals, fed an unnatural grain diet (and who knows what was added to these grains beforehand), and infused with hormones and antibiotics? These are sick animals. Of course their products are going to be a lot less than perfect. Animals that graze on grasses tend to be a source of omega 3 fatty acids, very much lacking in our diets, since the grasses contain omega 3. (I guess we can obtain that from the plant sources)Where do these animal based trans fats come from? And then wouldn’t we, as humans, have naturally occurring trans fats in our bodies, too? Just trying to understand this claim. Thanks!

  • greeson

    Question: It’s easy enough to avoid the trans fats. But I come across
    saturated fat listed in foods like raw organic almonds and other
    nuts, as well as a package of tempeh. Foods like those, for example,
    show 1-2 grams of saturated fat per serving. Should we then avoid those
    otherwise healthy foods because of the saturated fat? I’m confused now.

  • Jeffrey

    I have an ask the Dr. Question for you:

    My father seems to eat a lot of cheese – and I mean a lot: about 2.5 pounds per week. He kind of just eats on autopilot without thinking about it. He is probably about 40 pounds overweight. Everything else he eats is pretty healthy, mostly vegetables and brown rice. How concerned should I be about his health, and should I be taking measures to get him to quit the cheese before something bad occurs? I actually took him to see you talk once a few years ago, but it seems like he needs a refresher. Thanks for your advice.

  • johnd

    Many thanks for your work on health. I read it every morning.

    I’ve been trying to find a book that explains in some detail the outcomes of heart research, such as the Framingham study or the China Study by T. Colin Campbell. Since I’m not a physician I don’t want something highly technical. Instead, I’d like something written for lay people. (I’ve read “Change of Heart” by Levy and Brink, as well as “The China Study” by Campbell. They’re very interesting but I’d like more detail on the science.)

    I’ve tried reading some of the journal articles. They are too technical and seldom pull thing together into the big picture.

    Any suggestions as to how I can better inform myself on this subject?

    John Porter

  • teri

    I guess I have a question about nuts, seeds and the non-sweetened dark chocolate or cocoa bean (nibs) …. I thought these things were actually good for your heart and cholesterol…. clarification please….. I have high cholesterol in the family naturally and do not want to get this one wrong… I am vegan/plant based whole /raw foods so I don’t do the “bad stuff”…

  • Emanuel

    I would like to hear your stance regarding “The big fat debate: taking the focus of saturated fat”. I couldn’t find a video addressing the issue.
    Thanks

  • Melissa Price Elenbaas

    What about the saturated fat found in foods such as tofu, almonds, chocolate, walnuts etc.? Is the saturated fat in whole foods clogging my arteries just like saturated fat from animal products and junk food?

  • dem

    there’s that assumption that total cholesterol profile or LDL level predicts heart disease. . only SMALL density LDL predicts heart disease, as well as testing your level of inflammation. actually, testing inflammation predicts a ton of chronic diseases. not that transfat aren’t bad, they are. saturated fats though? animal saturated fats have been linked with inflammation, but things like coconut oil – no evidence so far.

  • Yaniv

    Hi Doc, I’m confused by this meta-analysis. The conclusion: : A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. What do you think?

  • Chris

    Dr Gregor, you say there is no tolerable upper intake of saturated fat yet even on my brown rice it says it has some saturated fat in it ?

    • Toxins

      I think the primary message is that we should limit saturated fat as much as possible. Every food we eat contains saturated fat, but we can choose low sources, such as with whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruits etc.

  • Natural Health Cafe

    Hi Dr. Greger,
    I just had a conversation with a nutritionist at a local health food store. He said that our bodies needs some cholesterol even thought our bodies makes up to 75% of what we need. The other 25% is needed and cannot be found in plant foods. This info is coming from the “Grain Brain” book by Dr. Perlmuter. Do we need to consume some additional cholesterol?

    Rhonda