Trans Fat in Meat and Dairy

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Trans Fat in Animal Fat

Trans fats are bad. They may increase one’s risks of heart disease, sudden death, diabetes—and perhaps even aggression. Trans fat intake has been associated with overt aggressive behavior, impatience, and irritability.

Trans fats are basically found in only one place in nature: animal fat. The food industry, however, found a way to synthetically create these toxic fats by hardening vegetable oil in a process called hydrogenation, which rearranges their atoms to make them behave more like animal fats.

Although most of America’s trans fat intake has traditionally come from processed foods containing partially-hydrogenated oils, a fifth of the trans fats in the American diet used to come from animal products—1.2 grams out of the 5.8 total consumed daily. Now that trans fat labeling has been mandated, however, and places like New York City have banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils, the intake of industrial-produced trans fat is down to about 1.3, so about 50 percent of America’s trans fats come now from animal products.

Which foods naturally have significant amounts of trans fat? According to the official USDA nutrient database, cheese, milk, yogurt, burgers, chicken fat, turkey meat, bologna, and hot dogs contain about 1 to 5 percent trans fats (see the USDA chart in Trans Fat In Meat And Dairy). There are also tiny amounts of trans fats in non-hydrogenated vegetable oils due to steam deodorization or stripping during the refining process.

Is getting a few percent trans fats a problem, though? The most prestigious scientific body in the United States, the National Academies of Science (NAS), concluded that the only safe intake of trans fats is zero. In their report condemning trans fats, they couldn’t even assign a Tolerable Upper Daily Limit of intake because “any incremental increase in trans fatty acid intake increases coronary heart disease risk.” There may also be no safe intake of dietary cholesterol, which underscores the importance of reducing animal product consumption. See my video Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero.

There’s been controversy, though, as to whether the trans fats naturally found in animal products are as bad as the synthetic fats in partially hydrogenated junk food. The latest study supports the notion that trans fat intake, irrespective of source—animal or industrial—increases cardiovascular disease risk, especially, it appears, in women.

“Because trans fats are unavoidable on ordinary, non-vegan diets, getting down to zero percent trans fats would require significant changes in patterns of dietary intake,” reads the NAS report. One of the authors, the Director of Harvard’s Cardiovascular Epidemiology Program, famously explained why—despite this—they didn’t recommend a vegan diet: “We can’t tell people to stop eating all meat and all dairy products,” he said. “Well, we could tell people to become vegetarians,” he added. “If we were truly basing this only on science, we would, but it is a bit extreme.”  

Wouldn’t want scientists basing anything on science now would we?

“Nevertheless,” the report concludes, “it is recommended that trans fatty acid consumption be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.”

Even if you eat vegan, though, there’s a loophole in labeling regulations that allows foods with a trans fats content of less than 0.5 grams per serving to be listed as having—you guessed it—zero grams of trans fat. This labeling is misguiding the public by allowing foods to be labeled as ”trans fat free” when they are, in fact, not. So to avoid all trans fats, avoid meat and dairy, refined oils, and anything that says partially hydrogenated in the ingredients list, regardless of what it says on the Nutrition Facts label.

More on trans fat can be found in my videos Blocking the First Step of Heart Disease and Breast Cancer Survival and Trans Fat.

While unrefined oils such as extra virgin olive should not contain trans fats, to boost the absorption of carotenoids in your salad why not add olives themselves or whole food sources of fat such as nuts or seeds? Other videos on oils include:

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2015 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

57 responses to “Trans Fat in Animal Fat

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  1. Dr Greger,

    Would tahini be considered a “whole food source of fat such as nuts or seeds”? It is crushed roasted sesame seeds (as you likely already know).


  2. How about roasted nuts and seeds? Any chance the roasting process creates some trans-fats? And what about the steaming and roasting of certain veggies, even if they contain small amounts of natural fats? This trans-fat issue makes me wonder if we should ALL being eating raw food only.

    1. Although quite delicious, the roasting can oxidize some of the nut and seed fats, making them less desirable. Also, depending upon the temperature, the roasting process can increase the food’s acrylamide content.

  3. Something is really concerning me here: I am thrilled to be vegan and a big fan of it but you mention that the NAS determined that the safe limit of trans fats is zero….and that “There may also be no safe intake of dietary cholesterol”

    But the best science out there has shown that the Okinawans did in fact consume meat, fish, and animal products, – in limited amounts, but they did exceed this “zero” threshold level…..and arguable (ironically, most vegans agree on the science that the Okinawans of past had great health. This goes for other cultures that established and respected science has shown did in fact consume limited amounts of cholesterol and rank in the best of the class in health and longevity.

    It really seems like something is missing here….is there some “fine print” that has been left out of the NAS report? I mean, the Okinawans clearly violated the advice of the the NAS, as well as your suggestion that “There may also be no safe intake of dietary cholesterol”.

    1. Okinawans did eat fish but very little meat. In addition, they had a wonderful social structure with intercommunal family living (multigenerational), that we in the west lack. That and genetics. For that reason comparisons between cultures (Okinawa, North America, Europe) are highly suspect.

      1. Well, according to the NAS report, they are not saying “only North Americans and Europeans need to avoid trans-fats”. I am curious, is Doctor Greger saying that for all people on Earth “there may also be no safe intake of dietary cholesterol.”? Is he really claiming that the Okinawans need to stop consuming their pig products and fish, even in limited amounts, or else!? And the Greeks on the island of Ikaria that have been studied have to stop their limited amounts of dairy…I can go on and on.

        1. Nevo, this is how I look at it. Something that may be quite toxic to westerners in our current lifestyle with our stressful cultural, our feelings of alienation and separation from each other, our lack of physical activity, regular sunlight etc, may have minimal to no effect in small amounts to a culture that is doing everything else right (like the Okinawans). Similarly, while cigarette smoking even at a very low level is highly toxic in many western societies, as shown in epidemiological cohorts, there are many indigenous cultures that smoke a lot – but they are doing everything else right. So just because something like trans fat is safe to an Okinawan of the early to mid 20th century, does not mean it is safe to an American, Canadian, European or Australian in the early 21st century. As Boby Dylan sang, “The times they are a-changing”. There are many things that are toxic about our culture that just were not seen in Okinawa. To dissect out one single factor in Okinawa such as trans fat intake in fish, without considering the entire cultural and material milieu, is very risky. Are there actual studies done on trans fat intake and disease in Okinawa? Perhaps those who had the most trans fat intake there had the higher rates of cardiovascular events … we just don’t know. For now, I will minimize my intake of exogenous toxins, because the rest of my lifestyle, and the society in which I live, is a fairly toxic milieu, and I can’t afford to live like a hunter-gatherer or Okinawan fisherman.

          1. There are lots of people on Earth today who are able to eat some cholesterol and still boast some of the best health on Earth. Telling these people that “there may also be no safe intake of dietary cholesterol” is like telling the students at the top of the class at MIT and CAL TECH that they should spend more time on their studies, that they aren’t doing enough, that if they don’t become “even smarter” and “better than everyone else” then they are doing something “unsafe” and might flunk out.

            Yes, I do feel there are people whose health might mean “there may also be no safe intake of dietary cholesterol.” – But not for all current, living people and cultures on Earth.

            Hopefully Dr. Greger can specify in the future who his audience is, who his opinions are targeted at. Surely he knows he has readers and viewers of many different backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems…..varied lifestyle environments that should be taken into consideration. We don’t all live in the western civilization that you have described.

            1. Ecological fallacy.
              If you want to live like an Okinawan, you need to have a 100% Okinawan experience, which is impossible. Diet, communal structure, language, psychology, patterns of physical activity, alcohol, tobacco, work life, social life, politics, climate, latitude, altitude, genetics, spirituality, customs and traditions — can we really extract one variable, e.g. trans fat, from this entire mix? Clearly that whole mix is, or was, deeply protective to the Okinawans who lived in Okinawa, and to say that trans fat intake simply becomes irrelevant in another context because it was irrelevant to the Okinawans at their level of intake is fallacious. My thinking is that modern post-industrialized society is highly vasculotoxic (and toxic in terms of other chronic degenerative epidemic diseases), and we need to work to reduce the toxin load in the diet and other factors to as minimal a level as possible, to prevent chronic disease. That is the basis of a whole foods plant based diet. It doesn’t include fish.

              1. Not everyone lives in the toxic post-industrialized society. And, there are some who do live in this toxic dump but appear to be OK on small/limited amounts of cholesterol.

                1. “And, there are some who do live in this toxic dump but appear to be OK on small/limited amounts of cholesterol.”

                  Do you have data to support this? My understanding from autopsy studies is that across the general US population (the ‘toxic dump’), atherosclerosis becomes highly prevalent by one’s teens, even in non-smokers. Maybe this is not the case in a south pacific island like Tahiti, but it seems to be the norm in post-industrial countries, where the leading causes of death remain non-communicable diseases such as coronary disease, stroke, congestive heart failure and cancers….

                  1. Something to consider is the bags of potato chips, fried corn chips, high fat cookies (vegan ones) and other sugar and fat saturated products as a society North Americans have been indulging in for the past 50 or so years. I have no interest in eating meat based products, but something tells me one is better off ingesting a a couple ounces of wild caught salmon a week than indulging in these “vegan” junk foods. The cumulative effect of this junk I think is far worse, creating a lot of the harm. I am willing to bet that the NAS would vote in favor of someone ingesting a few ounces of, say, organic yogurt per week than a bag of potato chips. (And with this the person would be consuming trans fats as well as cholesterol.

                    It is not like people who are consuming minimal amounts of certain fish and animal products – (and I do mean small, minimal, occasional) are playing russian roulette. Maybe for some folks this is a danger zone – I believe it is – but for many it is not as as they are rolling the dice like seems to be suggested in some circles.

                  2. On second thought I am open to the possibility that eating meat based products – even in small amounts – might be the cause of lot of mysterious cancers and illnesses. Yes, the toxins today are a bit different than in times past – a lot different. And this stuff tends to accumulate in meat based products.
                    This is not the reason I avoid meat based products, but it is a main reason why I don’t go back to eating meat based products. This is my personal choice. Yes, it might contradict earlier statements of mine. But something that really concerns me is the processed vegan junk food – fried snacks, chips, cookies, candy, chemicals in processed food, cooking methods that are bizarre – I think this, in the long run, will turn out to be far worse in the big picture.

                    1. We don’t know what the effects are for some of these substances, because they are so new and many have not been studied with statistical techniques such as cohort epidemiology. We know that salt, refined sugar, trans fatty acids, saturated fat and, at least for diabetics, cholesterol, are somewhat pathogenic, but for each individual the dose-response curve is going to be different. Some people have protective genes that can detoxify or otherwise protect their tissues from some of these substances. But it’s a “black box”. We don’t know in any given individual whether that person has protective gene X for substance Y – it gets too reductionistic to think that way, anyway, because there is so much complexity “in the model”. By the way, I am a vegan first and foremost for ethical issues, but I think it is quite healthy. From a health standpoint, do I think that a small amount of wild caught salmon per week is going to harm me? It probably wouldn’t, compared to some of the other things I do (not exercising daily, not getting adequate sunlight, spending too much time sitting, stewing over my problems, etc). My original point about Okinawans is that just because something does not harm, or even protects their health, does not mean it can be transported to some other group. I don’t know where you are but I live in Canada. I would love to replicate an Okinawan lifestyle but that is not possible. Where I am coming from, it seems best to adopt a whole foods plant-based approach (even though I do eat some processed foods – e.g. commercially bought hummus). Let’s not also forget how important psychological approaches are in enhancing and maintaining good health and happiness.

    2. Nevo: This is my take on the advice: the traditional Okinawans are rather healthy as a people and we believe that a great deal of that is attributable to the very low animal products that they ate combined with high whole plant food eating. But could they have done even better if they hadn’t eaten any animal products at all? I think that’s what the above advice is talking about.

      In other words, there is added risk with trans fats of any amount. In very small amounts, those risks would be pretty small. But still, why take that risk?

      I’m not an expert. I’m just sharing a perspective with you that might help with your understanding of all the variables.

      Good question.

  4. Dr. Greger, please could you elaborate on the difference between trans and saturated fat? I study clinical nutrition and have heard from my professors that there is no real difference between the two when it comes to affecting our health. Are they the same? Many thanks for you continued work, I love this website!!!

  5. It’s both irresponsible and disingenuous to unjustifiably conflate the effects of natural and synthetic trans fats.

    Query “Harvard Health Letter” and “‘Natural’ trans fat less harmful than artificial version” to find the following:

    “Two dairy industry–funded studies published in the March 2008 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the effects of artificial and natural trans fat. One study found that eating artificial trans fat lowered HDL in the women studied, while natural trans fat increased HDL. There was no difference in how the two different types of trans fat affected men.”

    Please don’t invoke a Genetic Fallacy if attacking the studies’ results, i.e., the results cannot be validly impugned by citing the dairy industry as funding those studies.

    1. “the results cannot be validly impugned by citing the dairy industry as funding those studies.”

      That depends upon the design and methodology of the studies, which I’ll leave to someone more qualified than I to examine.

      Got PubMed links to those two studies?

      1. “That depends upon the design and methodology of the studies…”

        No, it doesn’t. Impugning via Genetic Fallacy is an a priori attack which is entirely ineffective (it’s a species of Red Herring), whereas addressing the “design and methodology” is a posteriori and may actually disclose inherent flaws.

        1. The claim that the source of funding for a study is irrelevant is naive, no matter how philosophically sophisticated one’s vocabulary. The article itself mentions results from industry-funded studies warrant a healthy skepticism.

          Thus the question of study design and methodology is a valid line of inquiry. An open-ended question is not an attack; nor is a request for PubMed references.

          Here’s the link to the article:

          Unfortunately, the references page does not furnish any citations for this article.

          It goes without saying, the phrase “less harmful” and harmless are not synonymous.

  6. What about trans-​Vaccenic acid? trans-Vaccenic acid is a naturally occurring trans-fatty acid found in the fat of ruminants as well as in the meat and dairy products produced from these animals. In mammals, trans-vaccenic acid is converted to 9(Z),11(E)-conjugated linoleic acid, which has been shown to have beneficial antioxidant and antitumor activities that have been attributed to competitive inhibition of Delta6-desaturase and/or PPAR gamma activation. Additionally, a trans-vaccenic acid-rich diet has been reported to reduce serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels when fed to LDL receptor deficient mice representing an animal model of atherosclerosis.

  7. This is a general health question not related to the article. I’m a 26 yr old guy, always been in good health, lots of fruits and vegetables but ate plenty of meat and dairy. I recently went whole foods plant based but still kept drinking away like usual. Apart from losing 13lbs in 1.5 months and hitting my target weight…suddenly no hangovers!!! No matter how much I drink, little to no hangovers.

    What is the scientific mechanism that causes me to not have hangovers after going almost entirely whole foods plant based? I realize this is laughable and there are people out there with real health problems, I’m just crazy curious.

    -Neal, Maine

    1. If you eat a lot of artichokes, they might contain silymarin such as in milk thistle extract. Silymarin helps purify the liver and reduce hangovers.

  8. Synchronous article today, from–

    Previous research has found that eating barbecued, grilled or fried meat could increase the risk of being struck down by dementia.

    US experts found that compounds called advanced glycation end products, or Ages, suppress the anti-ageing enzyme known as Sirt1.

    Protein-rich foods that are cooked at very high temperatures raise the level of these harmful Ages in blood.

  9. Dr. Greger,

    I would like to know more about the possibility of curing tooth decay through diet. This website suggests that the only way to achieve this tooth decay reversal is with an optimum diet. The basis of which is animal foods, particularly animal fats. After watching so many of your scientifically supported videos this claim seems asinine to me. However, I was wondering your thoughts about this. Is it possible to cure my tooth decay with a vegan diet? Am I doomed to having a great deal of my teeth removed at the age of 21?

    1. Avoid all un-sprouted grains. Avoid wheat, even sprouted wheat. Try sprouted rye, if you want to eat grains.

      Avoid white rice, brown rice, etc.

      Eat leafy greens, fresh fruits. (make sure fruit is ripe. Never eat un-ripe pineapple.

      No sugar, no sweeteners, no dried fruit.

      That’s my advice.

    2. I have not read the link but do know that going vegan seemed to help my teeth pain/decay. I also had to eliminate wheat, kamut, spelt – all the wheat grains. These two things really seemed to have made all the difference.

  10. a trans-vaccenic acid-rich diet has been reported to reduce serum
    cholesterol and triglyceride levels when fed to LDL receptor deficient
    mice representing an animal model of atherosclerosis.If
    you eat a lot of artichokes, they might contain silymarin such as in
    milk thistle extract. Silymarin helps purify the liver and reduce
    hangovers.Protein-rich foods that are cooked at very high temperatures raise the level of these harmful Ages in blood.

    I recently went
    whole foods plant based but still kept drinking away like usual. Apart
    from losing 13lbs in 1.5 months and hitting my target weight.No matter how much I drink, little to no hangovers.

  11. There must be something wrong with all the research concerning natural trans fats. A human being has always consumed meat and dairy products but only for the last say 100 years the heart-related illnesses have increased drastically. Perhaps natural trans fats are OK as long as we lead healthy lifestyles (physical exercise and maintaining healthy relationships all that must be inter-related, we should not consider our diet only). Natural trans fats if not metabolized properly should have given unhealthy symptoms hundreds of years ago and the problems should have started in those remote times. Scientists, I suppose, oughtn’t to look at data as pure numbers regardless of human life experience. Medicine and nutrition science are not pure maths. Human component is vital. Let’s put on our running shoes and .get moving on regular basis and let’s care more for healthy relationships and natural trans fat will never be risky for us. If it is not true, are we all condemned to become vegans?

      1. I was not talking about astronomical quantities of meat.
        Are the humans the only mammals that….
        What about diomesticated cats? That was a joke, but I have heard that cliché phrase lots of times. What sort of argument is it? but even if it is true what you say, what’s wrong with that – the human being is very original and inventive and we should appreciate that, at least he does not ape other species.
        Trans fats and CVD – these are only pure numbers completely isolated. Add other features I mentioned.
        I didn’t write a word on processed foods, ie on hydrogenated fats.

            1. Your sources are faulty. Both of those doctors mix with sound advice with fiction. Dr. Mercola, in particular, is a cholesterol confusionist. Isolated sugar is no superfood, but in no way can it compete with the damage caused by saturated fats, especially lauric, myristic, and palmitic fatty acids.

              1. Cholesterol is a myth, Dr William Douglass – “the maverick” the most notorious myth buster started the whole cholesterol-myth campaign some 20 years ago. And all the rest of it. Is he also incompetent?

                Dr Stephen Sinatra – is he also wrong? And Dr.Majid Ali please have a look what he says – absolutely astonishing . He also must be mad.

                And Dr Rath – another incompetent physician telling us that bears have cholesterol, over 500 and they don’t die of heart attacks.

                True all fats are bad for our blood, because they cause its viscosity but fats are needed by our organism. Dr Lair Ribeiro, a Brazilian cardiologist and nutriologist educated in the States, puts lauric acid (there is 45% of it in coconut oil) as the third food after human milk and eggs (he eats 4-5 every day). According to him in human milk there is 19% of lauric acid and we all know about a huge importance of breast-feeding for the development of a child

                Why do we exaggerate saying that saturated fat is bad, obviously we should not consume it in kilograms every day but it is necessary. Complex carbs are also necessary for our health, but vegetarianism or veganism contradicts the basic food habits of a man, who has always been omnivorous.

                What puzzles me is that there
                are so drastically opposite views among specialists concerning the basics. Differences in opinions are healthy but not to that extent. Someone must have done improperly their homework.

                1. Hello, it is definitely challenging to sort through information especially if MD or PhD behind the name. But we need to be good consumers and do our own research. That is why Dr. Greger cites research so if we have any questions we could go to the paper itself. To that end can you send me links to the research articles that has you so puzzled.

                  I did go to Douglass Report but didn’t see any references or research cited.

                  Also on Aliacademy site, Dr.Alia only lists 2 research articles that don’t see to pertain to your concerns (yes plaques that lead to acute coronary syndromes often occur at sites of angiographically…).

                  Both of these are selling lots of things so that can just be something to think about.

                  I didn’t see where Dr. Rath is saying high cholesterol is ok but that he is testing cellular nutrients for heart health?
                  So as you can see I would like to help but need more.

                  1. Hello, Let me share these general observations because it is not only the heart disease which is at stake.

                    I guess I came across a hard-core mainstream scientist who does not hear any other arguments than those contained in scientific publications.

                    Rupert Sheldrake,himself a PhD holder calls that science a belief. It is the same as saying you are not a Christian, because what you say there is nothing in the Bible.

                    Do you think that science is larger than life? Or is it the other way round? I would have thought that there is much to life than science (stewing in its own juice) can offer. Haven’t you noticed yet that a new scientific paradigm is in the offing?

                    Joseph Campbell would have never reached his greatness, had he followed the bloody scientific method, which is stiflying the real knowledge.. The same refers to Bruce
                    Lipton or Gregg Braden to name only a few. Science in the
                    traditional sence is in disarray, because it is unable to answer
                    questions of life. No wonder that a parallel alternative knowledge is on the rise.

                    But returning to our muttons, do you really think that Mercola, Douglass, Sinatra, Ali and many many others would have risked being publicly ridiculed by spreading their knowlege? Don’t you know that science is not innocent in itself? How
                    many would-be publications are not accepted because their bosses must toe the line and this line is not merely a scientific line and even on those grounds it is obsolete, a 17th century Cartesian and Newtonian ”science”. A propos, isn’t it funny to know today
                    that Newton himself was more an alchemist than a physicist?
                    Contradictio in adjecto.

                    Sorry, your arguments are not valid any more. Even Dr Grenger does breast-beating for his meagre contribution
                    to 190,000 deaths in America every year (in other words doctors blindly following the ”science”) but he keeps citing snatches of the ”medical bible” continuously updated. And do you think that it is a good support to defend his arguments? We must not limit ourselves and our knowledge
                    only to all those bloody scientific papers but go beyond them.

                    On the basis of my experience and my readings. I will never advise anyone to avoid cholesterol. I am
                    carnivorous and vegetarian at the same time. I like fish and eggs, fruits and veggies,legumes and pasta made from full grain. I am more
                    cautious of sugars than fats. Unfortunately the main challenge is stress and a lack of physical exercise.

                    This is not a diatribe against science as such. I myself have a PhD (not in the field) but I am sick and tired of seeing this injustice being practised in the name of outdated science that needs some refurbishment. The sooner the better, because if the hardliners in science do not buckle under, a coming revolution may sweep valid scientific knowledge and we might end up in the Middle Ages.

  12. That is just about the ugliest piece of western meat I have ever seen. Photos of what passes for meat in Asian and African cultures are in a whole different league. After three years on a whole plant based vegan diet, I have become adverse to the allure of animal product as food so I even find what may be considered attractive marketing photos of raw and cooked meats repugnant.

    That being said, I approve. As I transitioned to a vegan diet, I found it useful to steel my resolve by understanding the cruel and unhygienic processes currently employed to produce meat, dairy and eggs. Before that, I didn’t want to think about it.

  13. I eat a whole foods plant based diet, and rarely eat procesed foods. I regularly track my dietary macronutrient composition with a phone ap. I still end up getting about 4-6 grams of saturated fat per day because there is some in the plant foods that I eat. Much of the food composition data I entered myself from

    Should I be more diligent about reducing my saturated fat consumption further?

    1. Joe: I’m not an expert, and do not know if 4-6 grams is a lot or not. But it sure sounds to me like you have a pretty darn good diet. If it was me, I wouldn’t worry about it. Here’s why:

      You need some fat in your diet–mainly fat that comes from whole plant foods. And if I properly remember Jeff Novick’s From Oil To Nuts lecture (available on DVD), all whole fats are made up some combination of the three types of fat: mono, poly, and saturated. Thus, there is no way to truly have zero saturated fat in your diet–because you need/get some fat from the plants and thus you will have to get some saturated fat.

      The idea is just to keep your exposure to saturated fat or fat in general to whole plant foods as best you can. (Recognizing the tropical foods like coconuts have a lot of saturated fat compared to many other plants.) If you are doing that, I think you are golden.

      What do you think?

      1. Thank you for your response Thea. Yes, the studies seem fairly universal on the health benefits of nut and seed consumption. One of my guilty pleasures is eating walnuts with dates or dried figs. I love the juxtaposition of the bitterness of the walnuts and the sweetness of the fruit.

        The impact of fat consumption on health seems a nuanced one that goes well beyond macronutrients ratios. One can’t help to improve ones omega 3 to omega 6 ratio by eliminating refined oils from ones diet. Eliminating refined oils greatly reduces oxidative stress because refined oils oxidize and ingesting them increase ones free radical burden.

        It has been drilled into our consciousness for so long that saturated fats are bad, that it is difficult not to view saturated fats with some suspicion regardless of how healthy the source. When I do indulge in my guilty pleasure, how many walnuts are too many? Are there bad synergies between the fat composition of the walnuts and the sugar composition of the fruit. It taste good. It even feels good.

        1. Joe: My appologies! Somehow your reply got lost in my pile of e-mails. I would normally have replied sooner.

          I think you make some great points and have good questions and reasonable concerns. My take is: Dr. Greger and others recommend 1 to 2 ounces of nuts a day. Me: Your question of how much walnuts would be too many for you in particular would depend on your calorie needs. If you are at a healthy, stable weight and eating 1 to 2 ounces of walnuts a day, then I reason that you are getting a healthy amount. That’s just my lay person opinion.

          As for your question about bad synergies between the nuts and fruits, I’ve never heard of anything like that. The question of synergy is a very good one, I just haven’t heard of any problems with eating nuts and dried fruit together.

          Not that you needed my opinion. I just didn’t want to leave the conversation hanging. :-)

          Good luck.

  14. I’m not holding my breath waiting for Dr Greger to cite the study discussed in a recent New York Times article. The study analyzed many studies of saturated fat and found NO connection between intake of saturated fat and heart disease, and in addition no benefit from eating higher amounts of unsaturated fats. It was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, one of the most reputable journals around.

    It’s so obvious that Dr Greger cherry picks his studies to support his extreme veganism agenda.

    1. I hadn’t seen the article. Thank you for posting it. It would seem that that the impact dietary fats have on health is a nuanced one, and to be sure, ones beliefs and working assumptions do filter and affect one’s perceptions, but I do not see evidence that Dr. Greger is cherry picking his studies. A more likely explanation for the failure to respond to any one blog posting is that there are only 24 hours in a day. If Dr. Greger is guilty of harboring an extreme agenda, it would be for the promotion of health though means of lifestyle modification.

      1. We’ll see if Dr Greger or any vegan advocate, comments in detail on the study referenced above, or indeed on any of the many studies which have shown no harm from saturated fats. I’ve yet to see any mention of studies – and there are a multitude – that cast doubt on vegan dogmatism on this site, and I’ve been following the site for close to a year.

        1. DOGMATISM
          1 positiveness in assertion of opinion especially when unwarranted or arrogant
          2 a viewpoint or system of ideas based on insufficiently examined premises

          Troll (Internet)
          In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

    2. Is Saturated Fat (Dairy, Meat, and Eggs)

      For you consideration:

      Note : “Limitation: Potential biases from preferential publication and selective reporting.”

      Comments on the National Headlines about the March 18, 2014 “Annals of Internal Medicine” Article Suggesting Saturated Fat (Dairy, Meat, and Eggs) Is OK to Eat by Dr. McDougall:

      1) I agree with the conclusion that polyunsaturated fats (fish oil) and monounsaturated fat (olive oil) are not going to prevent heart disease. They are at least fattening and most likely promote cancer.

      2) However, I know that one of their main conclusions is wrong: That it is OK to eat animals. Dairy, meat, and eggs are bad for people and the planet.

      “This March 18, 2014 Annals of Internal Medicine article will become a feeding frenzy for the animal-food-industries: a “nugget of proof” that their saturated fat-laden foods can be eaten guiltlessly. Millions of people worldwide, especially those who are looking to hear good news about their bad habits, will die of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity, and if left unchallenged, resulting increases in livestock production will accelerate global warming even faster.”

      Please read on if you are an interested in the details:

      1) The main scientific study they used showing the safety of saturated fat(reference 12), was a study supported by the National Dairy Council.(Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91:535-46.) This is the single study used to promote eating animals by the low-carb movement and the animal food industries.

      Jeremiah Stamler, MD wrote an editorial in this same issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition criticizing this flawed paper that has received so much attention in the lay press.

      Letters to the editor that followed were also highly critical of this advertisement for meat and dairy (saturated fat).

      And more Letters.

      2) In the results section of the Annals of Internal Medicine (March 18, 2014) article they wrote: “Seventy-two unique studies were identified (Figure 1 of Supplement1 and theTable). Nineteen were based in North America, 42 inEurope, and 9 in the Asia-Pacific region; 2 were multinational.”

      I would like to look at the 9 in the Asia-Pacific region and the 2 that were multinational, independently. This would show the effect of different diets on health (and coronary heart disease).

      In the nineteen that were based in North America and 42 in Europe, people all ate the same diet (full of saturated fat, ie. Dairy, meat, and eggs) – how could you possibly see any difference in health?

      3) This is an incorrect statement in the discussion of the Annals of Internal Medicine (March 18, 2014) paper:

      “For example, the influence of metabolism seems particularly relevant for the denovo synthesis of even-numbered saturated fatty acids in the body, compositions of which are largely determined by dietary factors, including carbohydrate and alcohol consumption (33–35), and other metabolic pathways (36, 37) rather than direct dietary intake.”

      Excess Starch (and even Sugar) Does Not Turn to Body Fat (Easily)

      A widely held belief is that the sugars in starches are readily converted into fat and then stored unattractively in the abdomen, hips, and buttock. Incorrect! And there is no disagreement about the truth among scientists or their published scientific research.(5-13). After eating, the complex carbohydrates found in starches, such as rice, are digested into simple sugars in the intestine and then absorbed into the bloodstream where they are transported to trillions of cells in the body in order to provide for energy. Carbohydrates (sugars) consumed in excess of the body’s daily needs can be stored (invisibly) as glycogen in the muscles and liver. The total storage capacity for glycogen is about two pounds. Carbohydrates consumed in excess of our need and beyond our limited storage capacity are not readily stored as body fat. Instead, these excess carbohydrate calories are burned off as heat (a process known as facultative dietary thermogenesis) or used in physical movements not associated with exercise.(9,13)

      The process of turning sugars into fats is known as de novo lipogenesis. Some animals, such as pigs and cows, can efficiently convert the low-energy, inexpensive carbohydrates found in grains and grasses into calorie-dense fats.5 This metabolic efficiency makes pigs and cows ideal “food animals.” Bees also perform de novo lipogenesis; converting honey (simple carbohydrates) into wax (fats). However,human beings are very inefficient at this process and as a result de novo lipogenesis does not occur under usual living conditions in people.(5-13) When, during extreme conditions, de novo lipogenesis does occur the metabolic cost is about 30% of the calories consumed—a very wasteful process.(11)

      Under experimental laboratory conditions overfeeding of large amounts of simple sugars to subjects will result in a little bit of de novo lipogenesis. For example, trim and obese women were overfed 50% more total calories than they usually ate in a day, along with an extra 3.5 ounces (135 grams) of refined sugar. From this overfeeding the women produced less than 4 grams (36 calories)of fat daily, which means a person would have to be overfed by this amount of extra calories and sugar every day for nearly 4 months in order to gain one extra pound of body fat. (10) Obviously, even overeating substantial quantities of refined and processed carbohydrates is a relatively unimportant source of body fat. So where does all that belly fat come from? The fat you eat is the fat you wear.

      5) Hellerstein MK. De novo lipogenesis in humans: metabolic and regulatory aspects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Apr;53 Suppl 1:S53-65.

      6) Acheson KJ, Schutz Y, Bessard T, Anantharaman K, Flatt JP, Jequier E. Glycogen storage capacity and de novo lipogenesis during massive carbohydrate overfeeding in man.Am J Clin Nutr. 1988 Aug;48(2):240-7.

      7) Minehira K, Bettschart V, Vidal H, Vega N, Di Vetta V, Rey V, Schneiter P, Tappy L.Effect of carbohydrate overfeeding on whole body and adipose tissue metabolism in humans. Obes Res. 2003 Sep;11(9):1096-103.

      8) McDevitt RM, Bott SJ, Harding M, Coward WA, Bluck LJ, Prentice AM. De novo lipogenesis during controlled overfeeding with sucrose or glucose in lean and obese women. AmJ Clin Nutr. 2001 Dec;74(6):737-46

      9) Dirlewanger M, di Vetta V, Guenat E, Battilana P, Seematter G, Schneiter P,J Çquier E, Tappy L. Effects of short-term carbohydrate or fat overfeeding one nergy expenditure and plasma leptin concentrations in healthy female subjects.Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord.2000 Nov;24(11):1413-8.)

      10) McDevitt RM, Bott SJ, Harding M, Coward WA, Bluck LJ, Prentice AM. De novo lipogenesis during controlled overfeeding with sucrose or glucose in lean and obese women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Dec;74(6):737-46

      11) Danforth E Jr. Diet and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 1985 May;41(5 Suppl):1132-45.

      12) Hellerstein MK. No common energy currency: de novo lipogenesis as the road less traveled. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Dec;74(6):707-8.

      13) Tappy L.Metabolic consequences of overfeeding in humans. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2004 Nov;7(6):623-8.

      1., during the 8-week outpatient intervention period, when the subjects consumed 25% of daily energy requirement as glucose- or fructose-sweetened beverages along with ad libitum self-selected diets, both groups of subjects exhibited significant increases of body weight, fat mass, and waist circumference. Total and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) volumes were not significantly changed in subjects consuming glucose; however, subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) volume was significantly increased. In contrast, both total abdominal fat and VAT volume were significantly increased in subjects consuming fructose.” Starches are wholly unsatisfying for me – when I was a vegetarian I put on a lot of weight and was always hungry. Meat, fish,eggs, vegetables (all in moderation) are highly satiating, lead to lower caloric intake and all my blood markers are crazily improved.

  15. I have always been wary about high fat content of nuts, and I usually end up tracking my nut consumption to see its effect of my macro nutrient mix and saturated fat intake. I usually eat them as a desert with fruit at the end of the day as a reward for eating well prior. I stumbled on this article on ( that reviews 22 nut studies and calls into question the idea that nuts do not cause weight gain. The article in question sites studies that seem to have been funded by the nut industry, and the main criticism of the studies in question is that the researchers managed caloric intake during the studies. This article seems in to stand in contrast to the 20 nuts studies sited in Dr. Greger’s video Milk Protein vs. Soy Protein (

    I eat nuts, and my weight has been holding steady, but I am a meticulous calorie counter, and I manage my caloric intake.

    Does anyone care to compare, contrast and comment?

    BTW, I would post on the nuts page (, but there is no discussion there.

  16. Could you please provide the citation for the quote about “if we were basing this only on science”? I cannot find this text in the NAS report itself.

  17. “Which foods naturally have significant amounts of trans fat? According to the official USDA nutrient database, cheese, milk, yogurt, burgers, chicken fat, turkey meat, bologna, and hot dogs contain about 1 to 5 percent trans fats (see the USDA chart in Trans Fat In Meat And Dairy). There are also tiny amounts of trans fats in non-hydrogenated vegetable oils due to steam deodorization or stripping during the refining process.”


    Referring to the statement above, can we called the Trans fat produced from non-hydrogenated vegetable oils due to steam deodorization/stripping during refining process as Unartificial/Natural Trans Fat?

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