Here's a quote that I
found on a forum: "Uneducated people do what they are told...
Educated people question what they are told."
This page contains topics that are controversial in regard to
diet and health. It will cover food and drink only, not vitamins or
herbs or other supplements.
We need to be fully informed so we can
make the best choices for ourselves. Read both sides of every issue, and
then make the choices that you think would work best for you.
If you know of any links that could be
added here to present one or both sides of the issue, please let me know.
Also see the
Tips About Foods page for more
information on specific foods.
Butter vs. Margarine
Canola oil—Is it a healthy fat or an unhealthy
Cholesterol—Is it really
the cause of heart disease?
Coconut Oil—Healthy oil
Milk—Is it okay for
Eggs—Good for you or bad
Fat and Oils
Genetically Engineered Foods
Grains vs. No Grains
Grass-fed Meats vs.
Net carbs—Count net carbs or count
Protein—Limited or Unlimited?
Saturated Fats—Are they
really bad for you?
Soy—Is it healthful or harmful?
Vegetarian Diet vs. Meat Diet
Water—How much should we consume daily?
Water—Tap, Purified/Distilled, or
Butter vs. Margarine
Also see sections
Which is healthier? There are arguments for both sides of the issue.
Butter and margarine differ mainly in the kinds of fat they contain.
Butter, made from animal fats, is high saturated fats. But is that bad?
Not necessarily. Margarine, made with vegetable oil,
contains less saturated fat (mainly polyunsaturated fat) but often has
high amounts of trans fats. Is that bad? Yes.
If you replace butter with
margarine, avoid those types made with trans fats (hydrogenated oils).
Look for those labeled "trans fat free" and with no hydrogenated oils
listed in the ingredients. Some labels say "no trans fats per serving,"
which means that it contains trans fats but not enough to
require that it be listed in a serving size. Avoid these products, as
any amount of trans fats is too much.
Remember—Use butter and/or margarine in moderation,
if at all, just for flavor.
Dr. Andrew Weil says,
“I personally prefer olive oil for most of my cooking. If I had to
choose between butter and margarine, I would choose butter, as I've
said. Using small amounts of butter occasionally probably won't hurt
you, but I wouldn't make a habit of it . . . When you crave a bit of
butter, use the real thing.”
Dr. Mercola says,
“Very simply, butter is better. More specifically, organic grass fed raw
milk would be the best due to its fatty acid composition and increase in
beneficial fats like conjugated linolenic acid.” In another Mercola
article: “Use as
much good quality butter as you like, with the happy assurance that it
is a wholesome—indeed, an essential—food for you and your whole family.“
December 6, 2000, issue of JAMA
In a study of 56
families published in the December 6, 2000, issue of JAMA, the nation's
premier medical journal, a low fat diet based on margarine resulted in
an 11 percent greater reduction in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol than a
similar diet based on butter. Some people have interpreted this study to
mean that margarine is better for the heart than butter.
Not so fast. There
is weighty evidence on the other side of the debate as well. A 1993
study of 85,095 women published in the equally prestigious journal
came to the opposite conclusion. This study
found that the more margarine a woman consumed, the higher her risk of
coronary heart disease (CHD). Butter, meanwhile, was not significantly
associated with CHD. (There was also no increased risk linked with the
consumption of beef, pork, or lamb.)
A 1994 study
issued a similar thumbs-down verdict on margarine: Compared with people
who ate very little margarine, those with the greatest consumption were
more than twice as likely to have a heart attack.
Web Pages about Butter vs.
When the total of trans and saturated fat
is compared, traditional vegetable margarines come out ahead of butter.
Even better are margarines that are not hydrogenated. These products
should be trans fat free.
Is margarine healthier than butter?
Neither is ideal, because butter is loaded with saturated fat, and
almost all margarines have some saturated fat and trans fatty acids.
However, if you must use one or the other, margarine may be better than
Margarine is marginally better than
butter - but it isn't great.
Butter is Better by
Byrnes, ND, RNCP
Why Butter is Better,
by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD
Good News: Butter is Better for you than
About butter and margarine, with a recipe
for butter replacer.
Butter Versus Margarine by Chris Gupta.
Summary: “The argument for eating margarine and other products
containing hydrogenated oils are their lack of cholesterol. Margarine is
also less expensive than butter. However, margarine contains refined,
artificially saturated vegetable oil. It also contains harmful
trans-fatty acids, and often residues of the toxic metals nickel and
cadmium. Butter is a natural food and a good source of important
fat-soluble vitamins. You will pay more for butter, but nutritionally it
is well worth it.”
Canola oil—Is it a healthy
fat or an unhealthy fat?
How is the consumer to sort out the
conflicting claims about canola oil? Is canola oil a dream come true or
a deadly poison? And why has canola captured so large a share of the
oils used in processed foods?
Facts about canola oil in question and
answer form, including all the controversial issues, and ending with
their position: “Whole Foods Market believes canola oil is a safe and wholesome food and, therefore, will continue to sell it in our stores. In order to ensure the highest quality oil possible, we feature expeller-pressed, organic canola oil in our stores. Accordingly, each individual is free to choose whether or not to buy canola oil or to choose from one of the other many culinary oils we sell. Note that all of the stand-alone oils at WFM (except grapeseed oil) are expeller-pressed.
Since 2001, an e-mail has been widely
circulated over the Internet claiming that canola oil is a health
hazard. Snopes.com explains
how this came into being and exposes it as a hoax. It concludes with,
“In other words, it's a healthy oil. One shouldn't feel afraid to use it
because of some Internet scare loosely based on half-truths and outright
Dr. Agatston, of South
Beach Diet fame, says. “Misleading information circulating on the
Internet has caused confusion over the safety of canola oil. Some claim
that the seeds used to make canola oil have poisonous qualities, since
they are a hybrid of rapeseeds, which may have negative health effects
in high concentrations. A study in China found that cooking at very high
temperatures with unrefined rapeseed oil produced harmful emissions. In
the United States, however, most vegetable oils are refined, contain
antioxidants that help prevent these harmful emissions, and are
generally used at lower cooking temperatures. So go ahead and cook with
canola — it's perfectly safe for human consumption and a great addition
to a balanced diet.”
The Real Story on Canola Oil
(Can-ugly Oil) by
Dr. Fred Pescatore:
“Canola—Canada's Oil Spill Onto The American Market” by Janet
Article about the
dangers of canola oil
Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., Director Nutritional
Sciences Division Enig Associates, Inc.
says, “Although canola oil
is not a favorite oil with me for a number of reasons,
the statement suggesting that because it is used as an industrial oil it
is therefore not edible is not valid.
Flax oil is also used as an industrial oil for paint and linoleum, etc.
But when it is prepared as a food it is edible. Most oils have been used
at one time or another as industrial products.
One of the most edible of oils, coconut oil, is used for many industrial
products, especially for soaps and cosmetics.
Olive oil apparently has been used to
make soap for as long as it has been used as a food oil. Read the entire
Reasons to Avoid Vegetable Oils"
This article says that all oils are
unhealthy, and gives detailed reasons and sources.
Pros and Cons
How is the consumer to sort out the conflicting claims about canola
oil? Is canola oil a dream come true or a deadly poison? And why has
canola captured so large a share of the oils used in processed foods?
Covers History, Dangers Overstated, The Studies, Rapeseed Oil in
Traditional Diets, and Processing.
Cholesterol—Is it really the cause of heart
Also see entries about
Here are 7 interesting articles about the
real causes of heart disease:
Michael Gurr, Ph.D., renowned expert on
lipids and author of the authoritative textbook on lipid biochemistry,
stated that “whatever causes coronary heart
disease, it is not primarily a high intake of saturated fat.” So,
if saturated fats and cholesterol are not the causes of heart disease,
what is? There are a number of theories presented on this site:
Evidence now available indicates that inflammation and molecules such as
C-reactive protein associated with inflammation may be as important as
cholesterol in determining the development of atherosclerosis
(“hardening of the arteries”) and heart disease.
Cholesterol Does Not Cause Coronary Heart
Coconut Oil—Healthy oil or not?
Also see entries about
Coconut oil is a medium-chain
triglyceride (MCT) oil—an oil made from coconuts that increases calorie
and fat burning. Studies have shown that when people switched from other
oils to MCT, they lost up to 36 pounds in a year—without cutting
calories! (Researcher Marie-Pierre St-Onge, University of Alabama at
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is the
healthiest, most versatile unprocessed dietary oil in the world. Coconut
oil has been shown to reduce the symptoms of digestive disorders,
support overall immune functions, and to help prevent bacterial, viral,
and fungal infections. People who consistently use coconut oil report
changes in their ability to go without eating for several hours without
experiencing the effects of hypoglycemia.
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is a
stable, healthy saturated fat that does NOT elevate "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. Extra Virgin Coconut
Oil is an excellent cooking oil.
Research done in the 1950s concluded that
all fat was bad. And still today many people equate fat with weight
gain, clogged arteries, high blood pressure, etc. However, certain fats
actually help to prevent those conditions and are essential to good
health. Early researchers failed to distinguish between saturated,
monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. They assumed at the time that
all fats (including coconut oil) were unhealthy because they raised
serum cholesterol levels. But, in revisiting those studies, researchers
found that hydrogenated (refined) coconut oil had been used,
which is not the same as virgin coconut oil.
From an article in the Journal of the
American Medical Association: “Populations that consume coconut oil have
low rates of heart disease. Coconut oil may also be one of the most
useful oils to prevent heart disease because of its antiviral and
Coconut oil has been used
as a cooking oil for thousands of years and is still a staple in the
diets of many people living in tropical areas today. It was once popular
here in the United States as well, until shortages of imported oils
during WW II created the need to promote local oils like soybean and
corn oil. Soon, polyunsaturated fats became the norm in this country,
and with it came a rise in obesity, higher cholesterol levels, and
degenerative diseases related to aging. This is after the decrease
in using coconut oil.
A study conducted in Yucatan, where coconut oil is a staple, showed that
metabolic rates of people living there were 25% higher than in
comparable test subjects living in the United States. Increased
metabolic rate is a key to healthy weight management and could account
for the leanness of people living in areas where coconut oil is consumed
on a daily basis. The study further observed that local women displayed
none of the symptoms commonly associated with menopause.
Virgin coconut oil wins the war of oils.
Dr. Mercola says: “Of all the
available oils, coconut oil is the oil of
choice for cooking.” Click here
for full article.
“The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil” by Bruce Fife, N.D.
The Benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil
Coconut Oil is the Healthiest Oil on
What it does not do, and what it does do.
How to use virgin coconut oil
Many tips and ideas here.
http://www.livecoconutoil.com/: Research has shown that the
oil from coconuts acts differently than the saturated fats from animal
sources. Coconut oil definitely is unique in nature and provides many
health benefits not obtainable from any other source.
Eggs—Good for you or bad for you?
Also see entries about
are a good source of protein, calcium, iron, vitamins A and D, and
riboflavin. There are about 75 calories in the average egg. Although
eggs have gotten a bad reputation in recent years as being unhealthful
for people worried about their cholesterol levels, the pendulum seems to
be swinging in the other direction yet again. Eggs seem to be bad for
you, good for you, bad for you, good for you, in cycles. Let moderation
be the key to your enjoyment of anything, and eggs are no exception.
should be eating several eggs every day - seven days a week. Get
yourself back to a normal, 21-egg-a-week, power-pack diet. But even if
you can't get the Omegas where you live, don't forget that the regular
kind are just as good! A three-egg omelette every morning with coffee
(heavy cream) and three rashers of bacon will set you up for a great
Lots of good information about eggs. All
you ever wanted to know . . . Egg facts and egg Q&As.
More information about eggs:
Fats and Oils
There is much controversy about which
fats and oils are healthy and which are harmful. For more information,
see these entries on this page:
Butter vs. Margarine,
Know Your Fats
Types of edible fats:
butter and the various forms of butter, margarine, whey butter, cocoa
butter, lard, suet, vegetable shortening.
of edible oils: almond, apricot
kernel, argan, avocado, canola, chili, coconut, corn, cottonseed,
flaxseed, grape seed, hazelnut, mustard, palm, palm-kernel, peanut, pine
seed, poppy seed, pumpkin seed, rice bran, safflower, sesame seed,
soybean, sunflower seed, tea, truffle, vegetable, walnut, and wheat
However, although these are edible fats
not everyone agrees that all of these are healthy fats and oils.
According to Dr. Mercola,
cottonseed oil, safflower oil,
soybean oil, and sunflower oil “should be strictly avoided because they all
50% omega-6 and, except for soybean oil, only minimal amounts of
omega-3. Safflower oil contains almost 80% omega-6. Researchers are
just beginning to discover the dangers of excess omega-6 oils in the
diet, whether rancid or not.”
Never eat hydrogenated or partially
hydrogenated oil (trans fats) in any foods, including margarines,
crackers, breads, etc. Do not eat lard or vegetable shortening.
All hydrogenated oils produce higher serum cholesterol levels and contribute
to greater oxidation and free radicals in the body. In fact, further
research has shown that excess amounts of trans-fatty acids (found in
hydrogenated vegetable oils) increase the risk of degenerative diseases
and other age-related maladies.
Genetically Engineered (GE) Foods
Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering
Grains vs. No Grains
products vs. grain-fed (corn-fed) products
www.deliciousorganics.com: Cows were meant to eat grass, not
grain. Grain is not the natural food of cows. But nearly all cattle and
dairy cows, including those that sell under the label of Certified
Organic, feed their cows grain. Many start on the pasture, but then they
are shipped to feed lots to be stuffed full of grains. This is because
it's cheaper and because it's easier to control. It's also because it
will fatten them up faster and get them to market where the money can be
You are what you eat. The cows are what
they eat. If they are not eating optimally, when we consume the dairy
produced from these cows or the beef of these cows, we, in turn, are not
Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Products
http://www.eatwild.com/health.html Over 50 short articles that show how “switching to products
from pastured animals will enrich your diet with a host of key
nutrients, including beta-carotene; vitamins B12 and E;
another newly discovered ‘good’ fat called ‘TVA;’ omega-3 fatty acids;
and lutein. Meanwhile, it will reduce
your intake of synthetic hormones, pesticides, total fat, saturated fat,
cholesterol, and pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids . . . Products
from pastured animals are ideal for your health . . . switching to
grassfed products may reduce your risk of a number of diseases,
including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Essays by Jo
You Are What Your Animals Eat
Confused About Fat? Choose Grassfed!
What's in a Brand Name?
Super Healthy Milk
From an article by Y. Elchonon: Feedlot
cattle, those most susceptible to contracting Mad Cow from contaminated
feed, are generally less healthy than pasture-raised, grass-fed beef,
which are never exposed to the Mad Cow threat. To read the article,
Milk/Dairy—Is it okay for human
Whole milk, low fat milk, or
skim milk? Or should we consume milk at all?
campaign for real milk:
to read article called
“Eat more dairy products and ward off
Cow's milk is for baby cows, not for
to download an audio file, described as: “In
this passionate rant about the dangers of cows' milk, Mike Adams, the
Health Ranger, counters the ridiculous position put forth by the U.S.
dairy industry that claims cows' milk prevents diabetes in humans. Here,
you'll learn how the so-called "scientific" studies have been easily
gimmicked to produce positive results for milk by comparing the
substance to soft drinks. If you've ever wanted to glimpse a
behind-the-scenes look at the dirty marketing tactics of the dairy
industry, give this a listen. You'll never look at milk the same way
Does milk contain pus? There are some
claims that it does.
Article "Is there pus in milk?"
Dairy farmers don’t tell consumers that
every glass of milk is contaminated with pus, bacteria, and perhaps with
paratuberculosis. The only way to avoid drinking pus is to avoid cow’s
milk. PETA is calling on the USDA to lower the legal limit of allowable
pus cells in milk to the limit used by the rest of the industrialized
world. Presently, our limit is nearly twice that. Seventeen states are
producing milk that would be illegal to sell in Europe!
Bovine Growth Hormone:
MIlk does nobody good...
Net carbs—Count net carbs or count total carbs?
Protein—Limited or Unlimited?
they really bad for you?
See additional entries on this page
Fats and Oils.
For a good 3-page
article by Mary Enig, PhD, and Sally Fallon:
The Truth About Saturated Fat.
Soy—Is it healthful or harmful?
http://www.drmirkin.com: All plants
contain chemicals that are healthful and chemicals that can harm us.
Fortunately for us, our ancestors learned which plants are edible and
healthful, and taught us to avoid those that are poisonous. However, if
you eat very large amounts of one food, you can poison yourself, even
though reasonable amounts are harmless or beneficial.
For example, soybeans contain genistein, a weak estrogen that may help
to prevent breast cancer. They contain omega-3 fatty acids that help
prevent heart attacks, and are loaded with fiber that helps to prevent
diabetes. But they also contain small amounts of trypsin inhibitors that
increase risk for pancreatic damage and cancer in animals.
Hemagglutinins in soybeans could cause clots to form and travel to the
lungs. Goitrogens in soybeans block thyroid function to increase your
need for that hormone. Estrogen-like genistein in soybeans could
stimulate immature lobules in breast tissue of infants to increase risk
for breast cancer many years later. Phytates in soybeans and many other
plants can block the absorption of minerals.
However, you would need to eat very large amounts of soy products to get
any of these negative effects. Enjoy a moderate amount of soy foods, but
do not let health claims lead you to eat huge amounts of soy to the
exclusion of other foods. A healthful diet is a varied diet.
Article by Sean Carson,
“The Shadow of Soy, or How I stopped loving and learned to worry about
Weston A. Price Foundation
March 30, 2004, “Possible Legal Action on Medical Problems Caused by
Weston A. Price Foundation
Myths and Truths About Soy
Online Service—Uncovering the truth about soy.
Why Soy may not be such a super food
The question as to whether or not sugar
is harmful to your health is debated by advocates (usually from the
sugar industry) and critics (those who have nothing to gain).
See this page about
Sugar and Other Sweeteners.
Page About Aging
for sugar's effect on the aging process.
substitutes and artificial sweeteners—safe or unsafe?
Aspartame poses no health risks to the general
Aspartame is safe. Read about the
benefits and the myths.
Everything you need to know about
aspartame. A favorable review by the American Academy of Family
An American Story: Aspartame & Donald
Rumsfeld, everything you wanted to know. Many articles on this page,
mostly about aspartame. Lawsuits. Time line history of aspartame from
1965. Many links to other Web sites.
Aspartame—Toxic Water Being Hustled On
The Bitter Truth About NutraSweet
(Aspartame) and Splenda
Splenda is safe despite hype.
The dangers of Splenda.
Splenda—Safer than aspartame, but is it
Splenda — is it unsafe? Or truly the
perfect artificial sweetener?
The truth about Splenda.
Pros—Sweet 'N Low
Article, “The Truth About Sweet-N-Low.”
Excerpt: There have many reports that state
Sweet-N-Low can be carcinogenic when used frequently. I remember when I
was a child I heard that this can be a harmful compound to the body. The
truth of the matter is that Sweet-N-Low is not harmful to your body. The
chemical structure of this substance does not have any damaging effects
to your cells as do the sugar substitutes mentioned earlier.I stated previously that the important
thing of any compound is the chemical structure and its biological
effects once in the body. Sweet-N-Low has no negative effects once in
the body. It is actually a good substitute for sugar.
Sorting out the pros and cons of sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners
Americans Opt for Sweetness and Lite, article by John Henkel.
"Sugar in the morning, sugar in the
evening, sugar at suppertime ..."
article, recommended reading. As with everything, read with an open
Information on aspartame and other
http://doctors-oncall.com: “If you feel
that you must use an artificial sweetener, use Saccharine—it has been
around for over a hundred years and has not killed anyone or caused any
hospitalizations and deaths like the new sweeteners. Of course for
optimal health it is best to avoid all artificial sweeteners.”
When it comes to
safety, artificial sweeteners aren't equal. Article covers rumors,
research, and the bottom line for each sweetener.
Artificial sweeteners may damage diet
Fructose is no answer for a sweetener.
Fructose—Maybe not so natural...and not
A tale of two sweeteners: aspartame and
stevia. The harmful effects of aspartame and the health benefits of
stevia. For more on stevia, see the
“Aspartame, Saccharin, and Stevia,”
article by Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
Aspartame and saccharin continue to be
blamed for a wide variety of ills, even though research has shown
them to be safe if eaten in reasonable amounts.
About the newest sweetener, Whey Low.
Other links about the pros and cons of artificial sweeteners
Some, if not all, of the natural
sweeteners are also controversial, for different reasons that the
artificial sweeteners. See the
Sugar Page for
descriptions of these sweeteners.
More to come on this
and other natural sweeteners.
Vegetarian Diet vs.
There are many advocates on both sides of
the issue. Some people believe that meat is
unhealthy and is the cause of many diseases and illnesses. Others
believe that meat is necessary for good health.
Others are vegetarians or vegans because
of the cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.
"Meet Your Meat" video.
“The Myths of Vegetarianism” by Stephen
Byrnes, PhD, originally published in
the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, July 2000, Revised January 2002.
This articles addresses the pros and cons of eating meat and eating a
Eating too much protein,
while not eating enough vegetables and fruit, causes a loss of calcium
and increases risk of osteoporosis.
Click here for details. Increasing the
alkali content of the diet by eating food such as fruit and vegetables
may reduce calcium excretion and boost bone health, says a new study.
Health and a Meatless Diet
Article covering the digestion of meat,
heart disease and cancer, dangerous chemicals in meat, dseases in meat,
and nutrition without meat.