Tag Archives: saturated fat

In a Nutshell: What You Need to Know About Cholesterol Problems

When we think of cholesterol, we often think of it as a bad thing. The reality is we cannot survive without cholesterol. There are a number of myths when it comes to cholesterol.

Myth: LDL cholesterol is bad.

Truth: LDL cholesterol isn’t all bad. We need a balance of HDL and LDL for optimal health. The smaller the LDL particle size the more dangerous it is. So it is important to know the type of LDL that you have. The most important thing to know about LDL cholesterol is that it is more easily damaged. This is the critical issue when it comes to blood pressure and plaque build-up.

Myth: If I have high cholesterol, taking a statin will prolong my life.

Truth: Not only do statin drugs not prolong your life, they may shorten it and/or make you more susceptible to stroke, heart attack, Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, etc.

Myth: High cholesterol causes heart attacks

Truth: It may actually be a deficiency of cholesterol, in the form of cholesterol sulfate, that causes heart attacks

Myth: High cholesterol causes Alzheimer’s.

Truth: The brain needs cholesterol for proper myelination. Dementia actually appears to be driven by glycation (inflammation brought on by too much sugar) and lack of a certain type of cholesterol called B cholesterol.

Myth: Saturated fats cause high cholesterol

Truth: Saturated fats offer protection. Sugar is the culprit along with damaged fats.

In this article, I will explain how I personally doubled the arterial flow to my heart by sitting out in the sun! It took 8 weeks to go from poor to excellent. For the doubting Tom’s, check out the before and after EndoPat results below. Note the slight decrease in blood pressure as well. The therapeutic range for the Endopat, a test that measures the functionality of the lining of the heart and blood vessels, is as follows:


<1.67 High Risk

1.67-2.09 Intermediate Risk

>2.1 Healthy


Interpreting the scores from the Itamar company:


Red Zone: Score of 1.68 and lower

You do not have proper endothelial function and this could be an important signal of an imminent cardiac problem. This EndoScore may indicate the presence of disease and that an immediate evaluation and intervention may be needed, whether it is aggressive medical therapy or a medical procedure. It’s imperative that endothelial health be restored.


Yellow Zone: Score between 1.69 and 2

Your endothelium is healthy and while you don’t have any additional risk, you are still not in the well-protected Green Zone.

It’s vitally important that you now take charge of your own health and do everything you can to improve your EndoScore. Good health depends of certain lifestyle choice you make that include what you eat, how active you are, whether or not you smoke, the precautions you take to avoid injuries and accidents, and how you deal with tension and anxiety. The choice is yours. Choose health!


Green Zone. Score between 2.1 and 3

Your endothelium is functioning optimally, and you have maximum protection. Keep up whatever it is that you are doing, because the foods that you have been eating and the physical activity you have been performing regularly have affected a number of risk factors implicated in vascular health and longevity, particularly blood cholesterol levels, hypertension, and obesity.[1]

Notice that my initial score was 1.48 and that 8 weeks later, it was 3.04. In the words of the makers of the equipment, this was an extraordinary improvement. Read on to ee how I accomplished this in such a short period of time and with no medication

dr nortons test results 321


Dr Nortons test results 2

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is an organic molecule that is critical to the structure of all animal cells. It functions within the cell to protect the cell membrane and enable the cell to change shape and move about without a wall. This is what differentiates us from plants and bacteria as they are restricted by their cell walls.

An Aside: Did you know that humans are only 10% human cells and 90% bacteria? So maybe it is the cholesterol that makes it possible for the human 10% to manage the bacterial 90% of the human biogenome? I find this concept strangely intriguing. Go cholesterol!

Cholesterol Does It All

  • In the brain cholesterol:
    • makes up the myelin sheath that insulates against signal loss
  • In the heart cholesterol:
    • allows heart muscle to beat
  • In the membranes of all cells cholesterol:
    • promotes cell-cell communication
    • allows cells to move, and gives them permeability
    • prevents leaks in cells
    • protects cells from pathogens (microbes)
  • In the blood cholesterol:
    • makes up part of the lipoproteins (LDL, HDL)
    • is essential for protecting contents in the blood from oxidation (free radicals) and glycation (inflammation) during transport to cells and organs
  • Cholesterol is the precursor to of all steroid hormones, beginning with Pregnenolone. These hormones regulate:
    • blood sugar – Glucocorticoids
    • mineral balance and blood pressure – mineralcorticoids
    • sex hormones – testosterone, estrogen, etc
    • Vitamin D
    • Cortisone – the stress hormone
  • Cholesterol aids in the digestion of fats

The point is that cholesterol is critical to all of our biological functions

What Are the Actual Types of Cholesterol?

Cholesterol comes in the form of lipoproteins. The lipoproteins range from largest to smallest in density compared with the surrounding water. They are different sizes, and contain different proteins, because they have different jobs, depending upon where they end up.

Classification of lipoproteins according to density from low to high: chylomicrons, VLDL, LDL, HDL, VHDL (picture courtesy of medscape.com)

Classification of lipoproteins according to density from low to high: chylomicrons, VLDL, LDL, HDL, VHDL (picture courtesy of medscape.com)


  • Chylomicron is the biggest particle. It is produced in the gut and directly provides the fuel from fats to many different cells. But it also delivers fats to the liver, where the fats are sorted out and redistributed into smaller particles called lipoproteins, as well as to the heart and the muscles.
  • VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) is produced in the liver and carries fat, cholesterol, fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants to cells.
  • IDL (intermediate density lipoprotein) is a bit smaller than VLDL and carries similar to VLDL goods in smaller amounts.
  • LDL (low density lipoprotein) is what is left over after VLDL has delivered most of its content to the cells. It is called “bad cholesterol“ because it is easy to attack. While traveling, it gets hit by microbes, free radicals, toxins, and glucose (or the pollutants in our food and environment). So LDL is in the most fragile container and as such, the container most likely to be damaged, especially if there is a lot of glucose (sugar) floating around. This is what causes “inflammation”.
  • oxLDL (oxycholesterol) is LDL after being attacked and oxidized. Turns out, this is really the dangerous form of cholesterol.
  • HDL (high density lipoprotein) is the smallest particle, which is very robust and reliable. It literally saves cholesterol from turning into the damaged oxLDL. It also destroys pathogens by getting the pathogen to ingest it and then from inside the cell of the pathogen, the HDL destroys it. (Amazing, right?) It deserves the reputation for being the “good cholesterol”.
  • HDL-A1 – is the form of HDL that brings good cholesterol to the liver so it can be further distributed. It is produced when the cells in the skin made up of cholesterol sulfate, are exposed to the sun.
  • B – HDL – is the form of cholesterol that goes specifically to the brain.


So if you think of the Lipoproteins as the method of travel, you can think of the apoliproteins as their navigational system. The apoliproteins guide the lipoproteins to their intended target. The fats are attached to apoliproteins (apo’s) A, B, C, and E. HDL attaches to ApoA, LDL attaches to ApoB, VLDL attaches to Apo’s B and C, and IDL attaches to ApoE.

Chylomicron Structure

ApoA, ApoB, ApoC, ApoE (apolipoproteins); T (triacylglycerol); C (cholesterol); green (phospholipids) Diagram by Xvazquez

ApoA, ApoB, ApoC, ApoE (apolipoproteins); T (triacylglycerol); C (cholesterol); green (phospholipids) Diagram by Xvazquez

The lipoproteins are transported from the intestines to adipose, cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue by the chylomicrons. The chylomicrons are 85-92% triglycerides, 6-12% phospholipids (the parts of the cell membrane that form lipid bilayers), 1-3% cholesterol and 1-2% proteins.


By Ties van Brussel / www.tiesworks.nl[1]

By Ties van Brussel / www.tiesworks.nl[2]

In a good assessment you should be able to identify the following:

Total Cholesterol

Total cholesterol is a combination of the LDL, VLDL and HDL that is circulating in your blood. The ranges below don’t mean as much any more as they used to mean as it is not the total cholesterol, but the type of cholesterol that appears to be more predictive of vascular disease.


Optimal – <200

Moderate – 200-239

High – > 240

HDL – High Density Lipoproteins

HDL is the one that scavenges around in the blood basically looking for damaged LDL cholesterol to remove. The higher your HDL level, the lower your risk for heart disease. Low levels increase the risk.


Optimal – >60

At Risk – <40

It appears that the total number of HDL particles is not as important as the size. In other words, the larger the HDL particles, the more protection they offer. (This is the same relationship that we see in the LDL particles, in that the larger they are the less damage they cause. [3])

The ratio of large HDL to total HDL is measured using NMR spectroscopy methods. Five subfractions of HDL have been identified, from largest (and most protective) to smallest (and least protective). The types are: 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b and 3c. [4] This information is probably more important for research purposes given that none of the HDL is “bad”.


Triglycerides store energy for future use. They are a type of fat (lipid) made from any calories the body doesn’t need to use right away after eating. So when we eat more than we need in one sitting, the body converts the excess into triglycerides, which are stored in the fat cells for later energy. This is meant to be a temporary arrangement, the assumption being that when we need energy between meals, certain hormones will release triglycerides and supply the needed energy between meals.

If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, especially “poluted” calories like simple or processed carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, you may end up with high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia).

Triglycerides are a much better indicator that we are eating too much of the wrong foods than total cholesterol. Very simply, triglycerides tell us that we are taking in more than we are burning off.

TIP: This is a strong argument for eating 5 or 6 times during the day, as in 3 smaller meals and 2 or 3 snacks, instead of 1 or 2 big meals. It is also a strong argument for getting enough exercise to burn off excess calories on a regular basis.

Cholesterol, on the other hand, is used to build cells and generate hormones. As long as we don’t damage the cholesterol through glycation (too much sugar) or oxidation (free radicals) and we have the help we need from the sun (see below) to properly utilize the cholesterol, we don’t have to worry about how much cholesterol we have on board.

Triglyceride Range:

Optimal – <150

Moderate – 150-199

High – >200

LDL – Low Density Lipoptoteins

LDL is called “bad” cholesterol because it is easily damaged, which drives the body to form plaque in an attempt to fix it. Plaque build-up in the arteries can reduce blood flow and increase your risk of heart disease.

Photo Credit: //www.flickr.com/photos/42045498@N05/

Photo Credit: //www.flickr.com/photos/42045498@N05/

Traditionally, the ranges have been as follows:


Optimal – <100

Moderate – 100-129

At Risk – >129

However, this is an overly simplistic view. As mentioned above, there are actually 3 types of LDL, very small/small (VLDL), medium, and large diameter low-density particles. It turns out that the higher the number of very small and small LDL’s you have, the more at risk you are for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries.) This is because the smaller particles have a better chance of embedding themselves into the lining of the arteries and becoming plaque. The medium and large particles are fluffy and don’t stick.

In a Nutshell: For LDL and for HDL larger particles are better. For LDL, fewer particles (lower total LDL) is better, for HDL, more particles (higher HDL) is better.

Ranges: Optimal Moderate Poor

LDL Particle Number <1260 1260-1538 >1538

LDL Small <162 162-217 >217

LDL Medium <201 201-271 >271

HDL Large >9386 6996-9386 <6996

Researchers have identified two patterns of LDL, Pattern A and Pattern B. Pattern B, in which the size and density is smaller, equates to a higher risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) than does a pattern with more of the larger and less-dense LDL particles (Pattern A). As mentioned earlier, the smaller the particle, the easier it is to break through the cell wall, which is how plaque begins.

The test used to measure these subtypes is expensive and I would not recommend having it done unless you find that your LDL is high. At that point, knowing the particle size and the pattern is very important in terms of knowing what to do next.

Risk Category Ranges

Optimal Moderate High


> 222.5 218.2 – 222.5 <218.2

Another interesting relationship is that there is a correlation between higher triglyceride levels and higher levels of the smaller, dense, more “sticky” LDL particles. Conversely lower triglyceride levels are correlated with higher levels of the larger, less dense, more “buoyant” LDL particles.[5]

Mercola Cholesterol

New theories about it’s role suggest that it is not TOO MUCH CHOLESTEROL, BUT NOT ENOUGH OF THE RIGHT CHOLESTEROL THAT CAUSES HEART DISEASE, CEREBRAL VASCULAR DISEASE AND DISEASES LIKE ALZHEIMER’s. Amyloid beta in the brain, and plaque in the arteries, appear to be adaptive responses resulting from a lack of sufficient levels of a form of cholesterol called cholesterol sulfate.

Cholesterol Sulfate

Perhaps the most critical form of cholesterol is one I had never heard of, and one, which has not received nearly enough attention, given the role it plays in heart disease and in our overall health. I am referring to cholesterol sulfate, a form of cholesterol made in the skin when it is exposed to the sun. It is needed in order for the heart to beat and it is also an integral part of neural transmission in the brain. That does seem pretty important: needed for the heart to beat and for the brain to work! Without these two functions we are either brain-dead or dead all over.

According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff[6], cholesterol sulfate supplies oxygen, sulfur, cholesterol, energy and negative charge to our tissues. As I mentioned earlier, it is cholesterol that separates us from plants and bacteria because our cells can communicate whereas nonhuman cells are unable to perform this function. But to do this, there has to be a membrane and it is cholesterol that allows the membrane to do its job.

Throughout the book we have talked about Leaky Gut, or the hyper-permeability of the gut. Cholesterol defines the permeability (fluidity) of the body’s membranes. All of them. In this sense, you could say that cholesterol determines gut permeability, skin permeability and the integrity of any other barrier. It is the glue that holds us together. To summarize:

  • Cholesterol is the chief substance in the myelin sheath that insulates the nervous system so there are no short circuits. It is directly related to thinking learning and remembering
  • Cholesterol is key for digestion – it is a precursor to bile acids, which are needed for mixing fats and water together.
  • Cholesterol is the mother of all steroid hormones, including glucocorticosteroids, mineralocorticoids and sex hormones.
  • Cholesterol helps in managing blood sugar, blood pressure, mineral balance and everything steroid hormones do.
  • Cholesterol is a powerful protector against invaders – bacteria, protozoa, fungi, worms, viruses etc. It does this by first by creating a shield in the skin, in the gut, and in membranes. Second as a part of a trojan horse system known as HDL (high density lipoprotein ), and third as an antioxidant.
  • Cholesterol handles glucose by creating a system that prevents glycation, or the damaging of proteins.

A Perfect Design

So cholesterol is what we need to move, think and live. Getting it where it needs to be, or transporting it, is vitally important. How is it going to navigate through the body, which is 70% water, when it is not water soluble?

Since cholesterol is a fat, it has to have fats to transport it. Unless it has a sulfate. Attaching sulfate to cholesterol creates a molecule, which is both water and fat-soluble. The addition of sulfur allows cholesterol to travel with virtually no barriers. Once it gets inside the cell, it splits – cholesterol goes to do its magic in the membranes and sulfate goes to the cytoplasm.

But all of this magic depends upon getting enough cholesterol sulfate. Without the sulfate, cholesterol has to hitch a ride with a fat. The easiest fat is the one that is damaged, or LDL cholesterol. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just the amount of LDL, but the quality of LDL, that causes plaque build-up.

To summarize, when it comes to vascular disease, cholesterol sulfate solves the problem of getting cholesterol to all the places it needs to be without raising the LDL (bad) cholesterol.

How Do We Obtain Cholesterol Sulfate?

To really understand how this works, you have to understand the connection between cholesterol, sulfur, and vitamin D from sun exposure. We call vitamin D a vitamin because we can’t produce it on our own. It is actually a type of hormone. We need sunshine in order to activate vitamin D, which is produced in the skin when it is exposed to sunshine. We also cannot produce cholesterol sulfate without the sun. In fact, they are produced together.

The process is as follows:

  1. The skin gets sulfur dioxide from the air and converts it into sulfate
  2. The sulfate converts energy into cholesterol sulfate when the skin is exposed to the sun
  3. The cholesterol sulfate eventually gets oxidized as a means of protecting us from UVB radiation. It then transforms into vitamin D3 sulfate.


Vitamin D3 is considered a steroid, as it carries numerous messages and even manages gene expression and cellular behavior. Once it is formed, it is transported to the liver. From there it is transported to the kidneys where it is activated. At this point it is in the form of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Vitamin D can also be activated in the immune system, prostate, breast, colon, lung, brain, and skin cells.

Ah Ha! So maybe this is why vitamin D deficiency appears to be involved in so many of the diseases that are currently on the rise, many of which are affecting these organs and systems!

Although the kidneys activate and release vitamin D into the bloodstream, the rest of the cells in the body can also activate vitamin D. Apparently each cell in the body regulates it’s own sunshine, activating it and discarding it as needed, while the bloodstream keeps a base level of inactivated vitamin D on hand at all times. The designer of this system covered all the bases. Truly amazing. Pure genius…..

The implications for testing vitamin D levels are that you should not test for activated vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D). The better test is the circulating inactive form of 25 hydroxy D. So when you test, order serum 25 (OH) D in case your doctor doesn’t know what to do.

Vitamin 25 hydroxy D Range:

Maximum level: 100 ng/ml (toxic above 150 ng/ml)

Optimal: 50 to 70 ng/ml

Deficient: less than 50 ng/ml


What is the Difference Between Vitamin D3 Sulfate and Vitamin D3.

There is a world of difference relative to cholesterol levels. Vitamin D3 sulfate, which is created in the skin upon exposure to the sun is a sophisticated water soluble and fat soluble traveler, meaning that it doesn’t need the transportation services of the LDL container. The non-sulfated Vitamin D3 version coming from a supplement or food has to use LDL cholesterol. Remember we said that plaque develops when the body is forced to get cholesterol sulfate from LDL cholesterol.

This explains so many things for me as well as for many of patients. For example, I supplemented for years with mega doses of vitamin D3. At first, my D levels went up, but I believe that eventually the system down-regulated, as they eventually dropped and would not budge. The reason I started supplementing in the first place was that my vitamin D levels suddenly started going down. What I realize now is that I had also stopped getting sunshine at the insistence of a somewhat controlling though loving close friend. This is when they started declining.

As one might expect given all of the above, I also saw my LDL cholesterol slowly rise for the first time in my life. A recent Endopat showed the beginning of plaque despite my pristinely clean eating, great triglycerides, fantastic HDLs and perfect blood pressure. I am now a very moderate sun worshiper again and will repeat the Endopat with the expectation of significant improvement. (It was my doctor’s suggestion that I consider a statin that prompted the research for this article.)

Another significant distinction of vitamin D sulfate is that it does not participate in calcium metabolism until after it unloads its sulfate. In other words, sulfation happens first when sulfate connects to cholesterol and then it converts to cholecalciferol ( Vitamin D3 ). This means that none of the supplemental D3 will get sulfated! Maybe that’s why it doesn’t work to supplement with vitamin D3, other than to raise vitamin D levels. It may have no effect on the disorders associated with vitamin D deficiency according to research in which it was administered to individuals with medical conditions associated with low vitamin D[7]. This actually may be giving people a false sense of security.

What is the difference between D2 and D3?

Vitamin D2 is the plant form and it works in a way that is similar to that of D3 with respect of calcium metabolism, as it cannot be sulfated either. D2 is what they use to “fortify’ the milk from which they removed the natural vitamin D. If you drink raw grass-fed milk you can get vitamin D3 sulfate naturally. This appears to be the only food source.

But with complete disrespect to mother nature, we ruin the raw milk by pasteurizing it, killing the vitamin D3 sulfate. Then adding insult to injury we add fake vitamin D. Not only does the synthetic version not help, it actually seems to confuse the vitamin D receptors (VDR) which prevents us from absorbing vitamin D3 sulfate when it is available! This is consistent with the some of the observations of Trevor Marshall, in which he points out that supplementing with vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 down-regulates and interferes with the VDR receptor. Unfortunately, he loses me after that as he recommends avoiding all sources of vitamin D, including the sun.

The Solution

To cut to the chase, you can protect yourself from cerebral and cardio vascular disease, as well as many other illnesses, by spending a half-hour in the sun (or a few minutes with a UVB sunlamp) several times a week. It’s that simple.

We get cholesterol sulfate when the skin is exposed to sunlight, or a UVB light. Recall that vitamin D is not really a vitamin but a hormone that has become deficient in most Americans. Not coincidentally, for the past 25 years, people have avoided the sun like the plague, ergo less sun, less cholesterol sulfate, less vitamin D3 sulfate and more chronic illness. The chart below shows the % of increase in illnesses on the rise over the past decade. This time period coincides with the removal of the good fat and supplementation of the fake vitamin D in dairy foods.

Health Problems that have increased – The percentage of people with low vitamin D3 has also DOUBLED in a decade. % increase over past 10 years
Diabetes 66 %
Overweight kids 150 %
Parkinson’s 110 %
Thyroid Cancer 80 %
Breast Cancer 110 %
Tuberculosis 100 %
Multiple Sclerosis 70 %
Autism 250 %
Ulcerative Colitis 210 %
Concussions 80 %
Traumatic Brain Injury 170 %
Pulminary Hypertension 88 %
Alzheimer’s 48 %
Hospitalizations – Food Allergy 260 %
C-Section 40 %
Peanut Allergy 40 %
ALS deaths 60 %
Knee injury (teen) 400 %
Chronic Disease in Children 70 %
Metabolic Syndrome 250 %
Bipolar Disorder – youth 4,400 %
Celliac 100 %
ADHD (LA schools) 230 %
Rickets-(UK 600 %) 500 %
IBD 200 %
Lyme Disease 300 %
Clostridium difficile (age > 85) 400 %
Sleep Apnea 200 %

Looking at it another way, Michael F. Holick, Ph. D., M.D.[8] points out that optimizing vitamin D levels to 50 ng/ml will lead to significant health benefits and disease prevention as follows:

  • Rickets, reduced by 100%
  • Osteomalacia, reduced by 100%
  • Cancers, all combined, reduced by 75%
  • Breast Cancer, reduced by 50%
  • Ovarian Cancer, reduced by 25%
  • Colon Cancer, reduced by 67%
  • Non-Hodgkins, reduced by 30%
  • Kidney Cancer, reduced by 67%
  • Endometrial Cancer, reduced by 35%
  • Type 1 Diabetes, reduced by 80%
  • Type 2 Diabetes, reduced by 50%
  • Fractures, all combined, reduced by 50%
  • Falls, women reduced by 72%
  • Multiple Sclerosis, reduced by 50%
  • Heart Attack, men, reduced by 50%
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease, reduced by 80%
  • preeclampsia reduced by 50%
  • Cesarean Section, reduced by 75%

What if all of the problems associated with Vitamin D3 deficiency are actually caused by a cholesterol sulfate deficiency? Whether or not this is the actual problem the solution is the same: Get exposure to the sun for a sufficient amount of time to activate cholesterol sulfate without damaging the skin. (It is just as effective to use a UVB lamp for a few minutes.)

The Role of Cholesterol Sulfate in Plaque Formation

Throughout the book, we have talked about the role that damaged or polluted foods play in the declining health of Americans. It turns out that the lack of cholesterol sulfate combined with the body’s attempt to manage the damage from microbes, free radicals, toxins, and excess glucose may be what actually causes plaque to build up in the arteries, not an excess of cholesterol or the foods that contain cholesterol.

According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the plaque is an attempt by the immune system to save damaged lipoproteins, refurbish them and send them to the heart. Remember, the heart does not beat without cholesterol sulfate.

HDL has been dubbed the good guy because it brings cholesterol back to the liver. But according to Dr. Seneff, the real reason that HDL is so good for us is that it delivers cholesterol sulfate to the heart. And as long as there is enough sulfate in the system, HDL’s will turn the cholesterol into cholesterol sulfate.

But what happens when there is not enough cholesterol sulfate? When it is not available, the body employs another mechanism to increase it. By taking damaged LDL, and turning it into plaque, the beneficial HDL cholesterol can be separated out through a process involving homocysteine, since homocysteine is a source of sulfate. Thus the cholesterol sulfate needed by the heart and brain is made available. However, there is a side effect for this cure: homocysteine oxidizes cholesterol and the process itself causes plaque to build up over time.

Why does this happen? It’s kind of like leaky gut. When blood becomes deficient in sulfates, it loses its negative charge. The negative charge is important because it keeps cells in suspension. Without the negative charge, the sticky protective part of the cell, called the glycocalyx, becomes more permeable, and gaps develop that allow blood to seep into tissues. Blood clots form to plug the holes. Eventually, however, the clots block the artery and lead to cerebral and coronary vascular disease.

Statins to the Rescue, Right? Wrong!

Conventional medicine dictates the use of Statins to lower LDL cholesterol. Indeed, statins are the number 1 prescribed medicine in the U.S. But the chart below demonstrates what has happened since people started taking statins.

Congestive Heart Failure Rate Is Rising

statin chart

Clearly statins are not working. There is actually no research that shows statins prolong life. What they do is lower LDL cholesterol. In the short term, they can even prevent minor heart attacks. Over time, however, they deplete the heart muscle, brain, liver, and joints of needed cholesterol. What does work is more sulfur in the blood. The only individuals who should consider statins are those with a genetic predisposition to high HDL who do not produce cholesterol sulfate.

Let the Sun Shine

This is such an elegant and simple solution, just get more sun.

According to Dr. Seneff, there is “a complete inverse relationship between sunlight and cardiovascular disease – the more sunlight, the less cardiovascular disease.” In a study involving 16,500 people, researchers looked at weather statistics and found a 60% increased risk of stroke for those with the lowest sun exposure.[9] In another study, 38,472 women selected in 1991-1992, aged 30-49 were monitored for 15 years. Looking at the frequency of sunbathing vacations and sunburn, the researchers found that increased sunburn frequency was associated with reduced all-cause mortality! Sunbathing vacations more than once a year also reduced risk to cardiovascular disease and mortality. [10] Interestingly, this corresponds with the 30-fold increase in the use of sunscreen over the same time period. [11]

Food Sources of Sulfur

It turns out that the foods highest in cholesterol are often highest in sulfur. What a coincidence! I have said it once, and I will say it again. We are designed perfectly, if only we could resist the urge to improve upon the design. (Of course, many of these so-called “improvements” are driven by the desire to take short cuts, while many others are driven by pure greed.)

All animal proteins contain plenty of methionine and cysteine, which are the two sulfur-containing amino acids. The best sources are:

  • Pastured organic eggs
  • Liver from grass-fed beef
  • Wild caught fish & shellfish
  • Inner organs of grass-fed animals


As mentioned earlier, the only food that contains cholesterol sulfate naturally, is raw milk. The only sulfonated amino acid is taurine. Fish and shellfish contain the most taurine, which the body uses extensively in times of stress and intoxication. It stores huge amounts of taurine in the heart, the brain and the liver. (If you are a vegan, your best choice is garlic, onion, cabbage and sauerkraut. But you are still not getting the badly needed cholesterol and the CLA – conjugated linoleic acid.)

My favorite source of sulfur is of course bone broth. When the bones simmer for days the way I make bone broth, it is rich in various forms of sulfate, including chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate. And it tastes so much better than a vitamin supplement!

But one of my favorite ways of getting sulfate is being in the sun for a few minutes every day. How much sun you get depends upon many factors: skin color (genetics), time of day, and where you are in relation to the equator. If you are light- complexioned, especially if you are fair, less is more. Stay in the sun only enough for your skin to turn pink. If you are dark skinned, higher levels of melanin protect you better from skin damage. However, you may have to spend more time in the sun to convert the necessary vitamin D into cholesterol sulfate.

Another Ah ha: We all started out at the equator and had dark skin. The farther away we got from the equator, the lighter our skin became and the less melanin we needed to protect against UVB. Today, in the U.S. people of color have significantly higher rates of cancer (although the rates dropped for cancer in 2013 among African Americans) and heart disease.

“In a startling 2009 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that African-Americans have a much higher incidence of heart failure than other races, and it develops at younger ages. Before age 50, African-Americans’ heart failure rate is 20 times higher than that of whites, according to the study. Four risk factors are the strongest predictors of heart failure: high blood pressure (also called hypertension), chronic kidney disease, being overweight, and having low levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol. Three-fourths of African-Americans who develop heart failure have high blood pressure by age 40.”[12]

When it comes to cancer, the picture is not much better.

“Despite……. declines….. death rates for all cancers combined remain 33% higher in black men and 16% higher in black women, compared to white men and women. African American men also have higher death rates for most of the major cancer sites (including lung, prostate, colon/rectum, liver, pancreas, and others). Notably, the higher overall cancer death rate in African American women compared to white women occurs despite lower incidence rates for all cancers combined and for breast and lung cancer.

Given the role that the sun plays, it may be even more important for the person of color to be in the sun, given that their skin naturally “screens” out the UVB rays. I cannot find good information on how much sun we should get other than that it varies for each of us and a general rule of thumb is enough for the skin to become “pink”. Obviously this will not be very helpful for the person of color. “Darkening” or checking for a ”tan” line might be a better indicator, but even those don’t sound right.

In general, too much sun ages the skin and burning can cause skin cancer. So proceed cautiously regardless of the color of your skin. Start slow and increase the amount of sun you get slowly over time. But get sun! In the meantime, monitor your vitamin D3 sulfate levels to be sure that sun exposure is working.

Another way to get limited amounts of sulfer through the skin is to use Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate). I use it frequently as an ex-foliant, after sitting in front of my near-infrared sauna or my UVB lamp. (The sauna fights gut bacteria and the UVB provides D3 sulfate and cholesterol sulfate.) Be careful with the Epsom salts, as you can over do it and end up drying out your skin.

Dr. Ron’s Ultra Pure makes an MSM line of body products including shampoos and conditioners that are awesome and a good source of sulfate. I use his MSM toner all over my body before putting on an organic body lotion from Intelligent Nutrients.


Throughout the book, we have talked about the dangers of foods that are not organic. One of the most dangerous herbicides is glyphosate—which is used on most conventional and genetically engineered food crops. There is a great deal of data on the dangers of glyphosate. But according to Dr. Stenanie Seneff, glyphosate is also a major problem because it interferes with the enzymes responsible for activating vitamin D in the liver and kidneys. She explains: “Glyphosate disrupts cytochrome p450 enzymes, which activate vitamin D. In addition, according to Dr. Seneff, the formation of cholesterol sulfate is also disrupted by glyphosate.

Without getting too technical, if you ingest too much glyphosate the red blood cells fall apart because they have lost their cholesterol sulfate. Remember, we said that cholesterol sulfate basically holds our cells together. The mechanism is called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), which means that the red blood cells coagulate your blood because they have lost their form and function.

Solution: Eat Clean, Go Organic!


High homocysteine levels is another phenomenon that is seldom discussed, but one that has been implicated in coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and more. It is another example of a protective mechanism gone awry and it is becoming increasingly common.

Given the amount of damage that it does, it is surprising that it is rarely a topic of discussion. There is a very good reason: there is no medication that lowers homocysteine levels. Consequently, the drug companies are not interested in educating the public of it’s dangers as they will not profit from doing so. We are left to our own devices on this one, which is probably a good thing.

Homocysteine Level Health Status
Below 6 units 10 percent of populationExtremely low risk for disease
6 to 8.9 units 35 percent of populationLow risk for disease, could be better
9 to 11.9 units 20 percent of populationSignificant risk for premature death from degenerative diseases
12 to 14.9 units 20 percent of populationHigh risk for premature death from degenerative diseases
15 to 19.9 units 10 percent of populationExtremely high risk category, at risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, cancer, or Alzheimer’s disease in the next ten to thirty years
Greater than 20 units Extremely high risk, right now, of heart attack and stroke.

Lowering Your Homocysteine Levels

There are several important supplements that can lower your homocysteine levels:

  • Folate
  • B2
  • B12
  • B6
  • Zinc
  • Trimethyglycine or TMG

It is also important to eat the following:

  1. Healthy fats like coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, and olive oil
  2. Organic vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables – 50% of your diet if possible
  3. High quality protein – organic eggs, wild caught fish, grass-fed red meat, pastured pork, nuts and seeds in moderate amounts (1/2 cup per day)

Sound familiar?

Cut way back on:

  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Processed foods
  • Salt (use sea salt)
  • Sugar (consider Xylitol)

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Something that a lot of people are not aware of is that the liver turns fructose into fat. The live’s job is to make cholesterol. This is a complex process involving some 25 to 30-steps. When it has to stop to turn the fructose into fat, it severely hampers its ability to make cholesterol. This is an important issue in view of the excessive amount of HFCS consumed in the U.S.

There are two things you can do: First, avoid processed foods, which are loaded with HFCS; Second, substitute Xylitol as a sweetener. It has many health benefits and a low glycemic load.


To review: It is the microbes, toxins, free radicals, and high levels of glucose that damage the LDL, along with high levels of homocysteine that damage the arteries, and herbicides like Glyphosate that block vitamin D3 and cholesterol sulfate from activating, combined with a lack of cholesterol sulfate, and lack of vitamin D3 sulfate that leads to illness, especially vascular disease.

In a nutshell: The alleged benefits of vitamin D3 sulfate are also benefits of cholesterol sulfate, i.e. protection against cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and improved immune function.

To stay healthy: Get plenty of dietary sulfur, get regulated sun exposure, eat good fats, reduce your homocysteine levels by supplementing and avoiding foods that raise homocysteine levels, avoid herbicides like glyphosate by eating clean, and get plenty of rest.

[1] (6) Bonetti PO, Pumper GM, Higano ST, Holmes DR Jr., Kuvin JT,‫ Lerman A. Noninvasive Identification of Patients with Early Atherosclerosis by Assessment of Digital ReactiveHyperemia. 44: 2137-2141

[2] The copyright holder of this work allows anyone to use it for any purpose including unrestricted redistribution, commercial use, and modification.

[3] //www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35058896/ns/health-heart_health/t/bad-cholesterol-its-not-what-you-think/#.T4Gkub_Owrg

[4] “Small LDL and its clinical importance as a new CAD risk factor: a female case study”. Progress in Cardiovascular Nursing 17 (4): 167–73

[5] Warnick GR, Knopp RH, Fitzpatrick V, Branson L (January 1990). “Estimating low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by the Friedewald equation is adequate for classifying patients on the basis of nationally recommended cutpoints”. Clinical Chemistry 36 (1): 15–9. PMID

[6] Seneff, S., Davidson, R., and Mascitelli, L. (2012). Might cholesterol sulfate deficiency contribute to the development of autistic spectrum disorder? Medical Hypotheses, 8, 213-217.

[7]In studies where vitamin D was given as an intervention (treatment) to help prevent a particular ailment, it had no effect. The one exception was a decreased death risk in older adults, particularly older women, who were given vitamin D supplements. Gordon, S. (2013). Vitamin D supplements won’t help prevent disease: Review. Health Day. Retrieved from //consumer.healthday.com/

[8] Holick, M.F. (2010). The Vitamin D solution: A 3-step strategy to cure our most common health problems. New York: Hudson Street Press.

[9] Mozes,A. (2012). Health Day. RSS Feed.

[10] Yang et al. (2011). Ultraviolet exposure and mortality among women in Sweden. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 20(4):683-690.

[11] Schneider, A. (2010). Study: many sunscreens may be accelerating cancer. Aol News. Retrieved from //www.aolnews.com/2010/05/24/study-many-sunscreens-may-be-accelerating-cancer

[12] DeSantis, C. (2013). Cancer statistics about African Americans released. American Cancer Society. Retrieved from //www.cancer.org/cancer/news/expertvoices/post/2013/02/04/cancer-statistics-about-african-americans-released.aspx

Copyright © 2015 by Dr. J Renae Norton
All rights reserved. Do not Distribute. Use only with Permission.

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship. This information is not necessarily the position of Dr. J. Renae Norton or The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity.

Fats Explained: Saturated and Unsaturated Fats

fats explained

Whether you suffer from Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, Obesity, emotional eating, or have problems with weight management due to restricting or overeating, you need to know about what fats do in your body once and for all. In other words whether you are obese, underweight or a normal weight, if you are having problems regulating food intake in healthy ways, this series on fat is a must.

For decades, we have been told that saturated fats were unhealthy, and that they were the root cause of the epidemics of heart disease, obesity and high cholesterol in our society. What we know today is that saturated fats are not the problem. It is the polluted and/or processed version of saturated fats along with the overabundance of processed unsaturated fats that are causing the problems. Saturated fats such as grass-fed animal fats and coconut oil, which is mostly a medium chain fatty acid (MCFA) along with unsaturated Omega 3 fats and the naturally occurring trans-fat CLA, are exceptionally good, indeed, healing for the body. Whereas man-made trans-fats and vegetable or seed fats that have been hydrogenated are literally killing us.

So in a nutshell:

Good Fat = saturated grass-fed animal fat, coconut fat (medium chain fatty acid) and unsaturated Omega 3 fats, especially those from natural sources such as flax seed, salmon, walnuts and leafy greens. (See next in series for complete list)

Bad Fat = Unsaturated trans-fats, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated vegetable and seed fats that have been heated and/or hydrogenated. Corn, soy, safflower, flax, cottonseed, canola, peanut, and sesame oils should be avoided either because they are innately unhealthy or because of the manner in which they have been processed.

Types of Fats

There are several ways to categorize fats: Saturated or unsaturated; Mono or polyunsaturated; Trans or non-transfat; and Short chain (SCFA), Medium chain (MCFA) and Long chain (LCFA). Among the monounsaturated and the polyunsaturated fats there are the Omega fats, which are divided into Essential (Omegas 3 and 6) and Non-Essential (Omega 5, 7, and 9) fatty acids.

Saturated vs Unsaturated Fat

Most fats are either saturated or unsaturated. There are over a dozen saturated fats, but we mainly consume Butyric, Palmiric, Myristic, Lauric and Stearic saturated fats. Unsaturated fats, also called the Omegas 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9 are either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated and either essential or non-essential.

When an oil is saturated, it means that the molecule has all the hydrogen atoms it can hold. Unsaturated means that there are spaces between some of the hydrogen atoms. This can be a problem, because opening the structure of the molecule makes it susceptible to attack by free radicals.

Free radicals damage healthy cells. When unsaturated oils are exposed to free radicals through the process of hydrogenation, the cells in the oil age, and the oils can become rancid. Not only are they capable of becoming rancid in the jar in which they are stored, they may also become rancid in our bodies, which contributes to various cancers including skin cancer. In contrast, unrefined cold-pressed coconut oil, which is primarily a saturated medium chain fatty acid, does not become rancid, and never needs refrigeration, assuming that its structure has not been damaged by processing. (Always buy unrefined, cold-pressed nut and seed oils instead of the refined version.)

Characteristics of Healthy Saturated Fats

Saturated fats from grass-fed, raw or lightly pasteurized dairy (milk, cream, butter, cheese, cottage cheese) grass-fed/grass-finished beef, pastured pork and poultry (that are fed non-GMO grains and are usually organic) coconut and palm kernel oil and cacao have the following health benefits:

  • Saturated fatty acids constitute at least 50% of cell membranes. They give cells their necessary stiffness and integrity.
  • Saturated fats play a vital role in the health of bones. For calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure, at least 50% of dietary fats should be saturated.
  • Saturated fats lower lipoprotein – A substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease.
  • Saturated fats protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins.
  • Saturated fats enhance the immune system.
  • Saturated fats are needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids. Specifically, omega-3 essential fatty acids are better retained in the tissue when the diet is rich in saturated fats.

Unsaturated Fats (for the geeks)

Unlike the saturated fats that have a single bond between carbon atoms, monounsaturated fats have a single double bond between carbon atoms while polyunsaturated fats have two or more double bonds between carbon atoms. Unsaturated fats are primarily made up of the Omega fatty acids 3,5,6,7, and 9. (Trans-fats are also unsaturated. Stay tuned for our article on Trans Fats.)

Stay tuned for part 2 of this four part series. In Part 2 we’ll talk about Omega Fatty Acids.

Updated on Aug 5 2013.

Dr. J. Renae Norton is a clinical psychologist, specializing in the outpatient treatment of obesity and eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, and binge eating disorder (BED) and the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship. This information is not necessarily the position of Dr. J. Renae Norton or The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity.

©2013, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible. Please credit ‘© 2013, Dr J Renae Norton. //edpro.wpengine.com’.

Source: The Skinny on Fats

Show Notes – Dr. Bruce Fife, The Coconut Oil Miracle

In this weeks episode we talked with Dr. Bruce Fife, author of The Coconut Oil Miracle. We had a great talk about the health benefits of coconut oil!

Listen to internet radio with Eating Disorder Pro on Blog Talk Radio

In this episode we covered:

5:25 – Coconut oil contains a lot of saturated fat. Isn’t saturated fat unhealthy?
7:45 – Won’t increasing the amount of fat in my diet cause weight gain?
8:10 – What are the advantages of coconut oil?
11:10 – How can coconut oil cause weight gain in underweight individuals and weight loss in overweight individuals?
12:40 – How does coconut oil help in the treatment of malnutrition?
14:55 – Why does coconut oil have a positive impact on dementia and alzheimers?
19:05 – What is the recommended dose of coconut oil?
19:40 – Is there a relationship between homocysteine and coconut oil?
22:00 – What other diseases, disorders, problems can people expect to see improvement in with coconut oil supplementation?
28:12 – What brand of coconut oil do you recommend?
30:03 – Can you talk about the effects of coconut oil on arthritis?
31:10 – Do you have any tips on cooking with coconut flour?
34:18 – Why is coconut oil used in infant formulas?
38:24 – Coconut Oil Cooking Tips.
44:22 – What advice would you give to those suffering from an eating disorder or obesity when it comes to coconut oil?
46:05 – How does coconut oil affect cholesterol?

Links We Discussed

PERSONALIZED, SIGNED COPY of How Maji Gets Mongo Off the Couch! for purchase from EatingDisorderPro.com
Maji and Mongo: Let’s Eat! for preorder from amazon.com
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (grass-fed)
Jovial Foods Einkorn Pasta
Snowville Creamery (grassfed milk)
The Coconut Research Center
The Coconut Oil Miracle by Dr. Bruce Fife
Coconut Cures by Dr. Bruce Fife
The Norton Center Lifestyle eBook

Let’s Connect!

Like me on Facebook

Twitter @drrenae

Contact Dr Norton by phone 513-205-6543 or by form

Inquire about booking Dr Norton for a speaking engagement

Read About Dr Norton

View video about Dr Norton

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

© 2013, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible. Please credit ‘© 2013, Dr J Renae Norton. //edpro.wpengine.com’

The Skinny on Fat [Show Notes]

GMOs, Eating Disorders, Obesity In this weeks episode we talked about dietary fat. Is a low-fat diet really as healthy as we are led to believe? Are all fats bad? What types of fats should we avoid? What types of fats are the healthiest?

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In this episode we covered:

0:00 – Introduction
3:40 – Saturated Fat: Coconut Oil
5:28 – What are Saturated Fatty Acids?
5:45 – What are Unsaturated Fatty Acids?
6:05 – Is Saturated Fat Unhealthy?
6:45 – Short-chain, Medium-chain, Long-chain, and Very long-chain Fatty Acids
7:40 – Caller Question – What is healthier butter or margarine?
12:40 – Short-chain, Medium-chain, Long-chain, and Very long-chain Fatty Acids
17:54 – Sources of Saturated Fat
18:54 – What oils are the healthiest?
19:20 – What is the role of fatty acids?
19:55 – What are Trans-Fats, Partially Hydrogenated Oils?
20:52 – Caller Question – What is healthier skim milk or whole milk?
27:40 – What are some sources of trans-fats?
28:25 – What are some other names for trans-fats?
29:17 – Why are trans-fats used?
30:05 – Food labelling – Low Fat, Fat Free, Reduced Fat, Light, Lean, Extra Lean
33:30 – How to choose healthy milk
36:40 – What are the best cooking oils?

Links we discussed:

The Benefits of Butter
CLA and Trans-fats
Cooking Oils, Explained.
The Disadvantages of Low Fat Milk.
How to Choose Healthy Milk.
Free Lifestyle Handbook.
The Best Source for Fermented Cod Liver Oil.

Show Summary

Saturated fat is fat that consists of triglycerides containing only saturated fatty acids. (A triglyceride is a combination of a glycerol and 3 fatty acids) Saturated fatty acids are chains of carbon atoms that are fully “saturated” with hydrogen. They have no double bonds. Unsaturated fat consists of fatty acids that do have double bonds.

So, Fatty acids that have double bonds are known as unsaturated. Fatty acids without double bonds are known as saturated. For many years we were told that saturated fats were dangerous and that fats like canola oil were good for us….wrong!

Fatty Acids also differ in length.

Fatty acid chains differ by length as well as in saturation. This is important because most of us have been told that saturated fat is bad and that unsaturated fat is good. In fact, the length of the fat may be even more important.

Length is categorized as short to very long

  • Short Chain fatty acids (SCFA) are (always saturated) fatty acids tails of fewer than six carbons. Found mostly in butter fat from cows or goats. (microbes good for immune systems)
  • (MCFA) are fatty acids tails of 6–12 carbons, which can form medium-chain triglycerides. Found in coconut fat
  • Long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) (Saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated) are fatty acids with tails 13 to 21carbons. Found in beef, olive oil, black current oil
  • Very long chain fatty acids (VLCFA) (Highly unsaturated) are fatty acids with tails longer than 22 carbons. Found in Fish oil (EPA, DHA) very important in the functioning of the nervous system.

Short and Medium chain fatty acids do not store as fat in human beings, whereas, long and very long chain fatty acids do.

Unlike other fatty acids, MCFA are absorbed directly from the intestines into the portal vein and sent straight to the liver where they are, for the most part, burned as fuel much like a carbohydrate. In this respect they act more like carbohydrates than like fats.2

Other fats require pancreatic enzymes to break them into smaller units. They are then absorbed into the intestinal wall and packaged into bundles of fat and protein called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are carried by the lymphatic system, bypassing the liver, and then dumped into the bloodstream, where they are circulated throughout the body. As they circulate in the blood, their fatty components are distributed to all the tissues of the body. The lipoproteins get smaller and smaller, until there is little left of them. At this time they are picked up by the liver, broken apart, and used to produce energy or, if needed, repackaged into other lipoproteins and sent back into the bloodstream to be distributed throughout the body. Cholesterol, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat are all packaged together into lipoproteins and carried throughout the body in this way.

In contrast, medium and short-chain fatty acids are not packaged into lipoproteins but go straight to the liver where they are converted into energy. Ordinarily they are not stored to any significant degree as body fat.

Short and Medium-chain fatty acids produce energy. Other dietary fats produce body fat.

Various fats contain different proportions of saturated and unsaturated fat. Examples of foods containing a high proportion of saturated fat include animal fats such as cream, cheese, butter, and ghee; suet, tallow, lard, and fatty meats; as well as certain vegetable products such as coconut oil, cottonseed oil, palm kernel oil, chocolate, and many prepared foods. Although cottonseed oil is high in saturated fat, it should be avoided due to the fact that it is genetically modified.

In particular, heart and skeletal muscle prefer fatty acids. The brain cannot use fatty acids as a source of fuel; it relies on glucose or ketone bodies.

Trans fats

Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils.” Look for them on the ingredient list on food packages.

Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Trans fats can be found in many foods – but especially in fried foods like French fries and doughnuts, and baked goods including pastries, pie crusts, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, and stick margarines and shortenings. You can determine the amount of trans fats in a particular packaged food by looking at the Nutrition Facts panel. You can also spot trans fats by reading ingredient lists and looking for the ingredients referred to as “partially hydrogenated oils.”

Small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, including beef, lamb and butterfat. It isn’t clear; though, whether these naturally occurring trans fats have the same bad effects on cholesterol levels as trans fats that have been industrially manufactured.

Companies like using trans fats in their foods because they’re easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time. Trans fats give foods a desirable taste and texture. Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers.

What exactly does Low Fat Mean?

Fat Free – Less than 0.5g of fat per serving

XX% Fat Free – Must also meet the low fat claim (below)

Low Fat – 3g or less per serving; or 3g per 100g for a meal or main dish, and 30% of total calories or less

Reduced Fat – 25% less fat than food it is being compared to

Low Saturated Fat – 1g or less and 15% or less of calories from saturated fat

Light/Lite – 50% less fat or one-third fewer calories than the regular product

Lean – Less than 10g of fat, 4.5g of saturated fat and 95mg of cholesterol per 100g of meat, poultry or seafood

Extra Lean – Less than 5g of fat, 2g of saturated fat and 95mg of cholesterol per serving and per 100g of meat, poultry or seafood.

Low Cholesterol – 20mg or less per serving and 2g or less saturated fat per serving

Cholesterol Free – Less than 2mg per serving and 2g or less saturated fat per serving

Less Cholesterol – 25% or less than the food it is being compared to, and 2g or less saturated fat per serving

Low Calorie – 40 calories or less per serving

Let’s Connect!

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Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible. Please credit ‘© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. //edpro.wpengine.com’

Why is Coconut Oil Good For You?

We have been brain-washed into believing that saturated fat is bad for us. I have always had trouble with this idea because both of my sets of grandparents were dairy farmers whose diets were heavy in delicious saturated fats. None of them had a weight problem, nor did any of their 15 children. Indeed, my maternal grandmother never weighed more than 90 pounds soaking wet, even after a dozen or so children! She and my mother loved buttermilk (yuck), put heavy cream in everything, and slathered toast with homemade butter. I can still remember the mouthwatering poached our eggs mom made by poaching them in butter and milk.Speaking of the milk that we drank growing up, it had to have the cream skimmed off the top. This we used to make our own version of “ice cream”. We lived between Kings Mills and Loveland, Ohio back then, close to Landen Farms. (This was when it was still an actual farm, now it is a subdivision.) My mother was no fan of the milkman and his homogenized/pasteurized dairy products! So she drove to Landen for milk, eggs and butter several times a week. Old habits die hard.My grandparents are all gone. Some died young, some reached old age, but none were overweight by today’s standards. My mother is also gone. She died very young of a rare form of lymphoma, but was also a normal weight all her life despite what would be considered today a diet very high in saturated fat. Every once in a while when I put the unsweetened apple butter on my whole grain or pumpernickel toast, I remember how mom used to butter her toast with regular full-fat butter, then put on a layer of peanut butter and then top it off with a liberal amount of apple butter! Scrumptious!Just one more walk down memory lane; if you happened to catch the John F. Kennedy special that aired on HBO this winter, you may have noticed, as I did, how different everyone looked. At first I thought they all looked like concentration camp victims because they seemed so thin. Then I realized, they were all a normal weight and I’m just not accustomed to seeing so many people in one place that are a normal weight. For example, I am sitting in the Barnes & Nobel bookstore in the Sycamore Center mall, which is north of Cincinnati, Ohio, a pretty typical Midwest city. Of the 17 people within eyesight, 4 are a normal weight, and the rest range from overweight to morbidly obese. What’s my point? I would be willing to bet that most of the people that I can see, whether or not they are overweight, do not drink whole milk or eat real butter. And I’m not even sure you can buy buttermilk anymore, so I’m almost positive they’re not drinking that. (Thank Goodness! Sorry mom.) I would also be willing to bet that at least a sizeable proportion of the overweight individuals I can see try to avoid saturated fats. If I’m correct, it isn’t working. So maybe saturated fats are not the problem.

It turns out that the best fat we could be eating is coconut fat and it is definitely a saturated fat. I use it for all baked goods, popcorn (yum) and anything else I am frying. I have also recently switched to whole organic butter and whole milk, to avoid MSG, both of which have saturated fat, with no adverse effects so far, although I don’t use a lot of either. I actually haven’t ever completely avoided saturated fats, as too many of the foods I love are made with them, such as chocolate, goat or swiss cheese not to mention the occasional steak. I do avoid trans fats and only eat beef, fowl and pork that are organic and free range.

So what really determines whether or not a fat is good for you?

We know that trans fat raises your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and that this increases your risk of heart disease. What you may not know is that it’s another man-made, or genetically modified substance that is added to our food, especially the foods we eat as snacks and breakfast foods to preserve the food’s shelf life. Some shortenings and margarines are very high in trans fat.

Until very recently, it was added to commercial baked goods, such as crackers, cookies and cakes, and many fried foods, such as doughnuts and french fries, without notice to the consumer. Presently, it must be designated as part of the nutritional information on the package. Our government has made it clear that these things have to be apparent to us so that we can avoid them, right? Not quite. Food manufacturers can still secretly add them to any food and state on the package that the food is “trans fat free” as long as the amount is below .5% per serving. How often do you eat one serving of a snack food?

I can’t help wondering how this negotiation went.

The FDA says,This stuff is really bad and causes terrible diseases that cost people their lives and ups the cost of health care. Consumers have to be notified!”

And the food manufacturers say, “That’s not fair, it will cost us a fortune in terms of shorter shelf life. Our profits will go down.” And the FDA says,Oh, ok, you can put it in and not mention it, as long as it is below .5%.” Seriously?

Why Is Coconut Oil So Good For You? It’s a Saturated Fat, Right?

We’ve been told for the past 20 years that it is the saturation of the fat molecule that matters. There are saturated fats, which we try to avoid, and the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that we try to include. But there is another less well-known system of classification that is based on the length of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. In this system there are short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, 98% to 100%, whether they are saturated or unsaturated, or come from animals or plants, composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Both the saturated and unsaturated fat found in meat, milk, eggs, and plants (including most all vegetable oils) are composed of LCFA.

While we have been led to believe that all saturated fatty acids are bad for us, the MCFA from the coconut, which is a saturated fat, has health benefits that rival those of fish oil, or omega-3 fats. In general, they do not raise cholesterol, but actually protect against heart disease. They also help to lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and they can be a significant weight loss aid.

To read the history and learn of the many other benefits of the mighty coconut and it’s healing oil check out Coconut Secret and the Coconut Research Center. For a somewhat biased, but interesting article on saturated fats in general see this article “The Truth About Saturated Fat” from T-Nation.

If you aren’t already confused enough about fat, let’s really get into it. Omega-3’s also come in short- and long-chain varieties. The short-chain form, which is alpha-linolenic acid, is found in flaxseed oil (53%), canola oil (11%), English walnuts (9%), and soybean oil (7%). The long-chain, or marine omega-3’s are found mainly in fish and shellfish. Compared with their plant Omega 3 counterparts, the marine long chain Omega 3’s have two advantages; Firstly, they are highly unsaturated. Secondly, they are excellent sources of low fat protein. Bottom line, they are critical to our neurological well being. Fish oil, when combined with exercise, is the only thing presently known to prevent Alzheimer’s.

So How Does it Work?

Long chain fatty acids (LCFA) found in plant and animal fat are not easily absorbed by the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and require pancreatic enzymes and bile salts to break them down so that they can be absorbed by the intestine. Next, the long chain fatty acids must go through a complicated process through which they are delivered to a variety of tissues, including adipose, cardiac and skeletal tissue, and are then transported to the liver, and are finally oxidized for energy use. This is how all saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and cholesterol that consists of long chain fatty acids (almost all of your dietary fat) is transported throughout the body.

In contrast, medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are absorbed by the GI tract with ease, they do not require any pancreatic enzymes to break them down, which means less work for your pancreas. Next, medium chain fatty acids are transported through the blood stream, directly to the liver, where they go directly into mitochondria and are immediately oxidized for energy. Medium chain fatty acids from coconut oil do not get packaged into lipoproteins, and do not get transported to a variety of tissues and are not stored as body fat, they go directly to the liver and are metabolized for energy.

The bottom line is that medium chain fatty acids from coconut oil produces almost exclusively energy, whereas, long chain fatty acids found in all other dietary fats produce body fat (and some energy).

Coconut Oil Boosts Energy

Because the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are easily and rapidly transported into the mitochondria, unlike long chain fatty acids, they are immediately used for energy, which “heats up” the body and increases metabolism. Several animal studies and clinical studies have proven that ingestion of coconut oil increases metabolism and decreases body fat both in animal studies performed on mice, and humans. Rats that were fed a diet consisting of medium chain fatty acids had less subcutaneous fat, a visibly evident decrease in overall body fat, and increased metabolism and increased thermogenesis.[1]

The energy burst that is produced by medium chain fatty acids is also important for athletic endurance. In one study, researchers tested the physical endurance of mice that were fed medium chain fatty acids vs. those fed a diet high in long chain fatty acids for six weeks. The mice were subjected to a swimming endurance test, where they had to swim against a current, every other day. The mice that were fed medium chain fatty acids continually performed better then the others and displayed a much higher physical endurance.[2] These studies in mice provide us with evidence that medium chain fatty acids increase metabolism and promote the loss of fat while providing a burst of energy that increases physical endurance. Yes, this boost in energy means you feel less lethargic, and it can help you feel less tired as you perform daily activities.

Coconut Oil Decreases Body Fat

Numerous studies have shown that coconut oil clearly has an effect on men and women very analogous to what has been demonstrated in other mammalian animal models: it increases metabolism and decreases overall body fat. For example, healthy men and women were administered either medium chain fatty acids or long chain fatty acids in addition to a diet similar in fat, protein, and carbohydrates for 12 weeks. Throughout the 12 weeks, individuals that took medium chain fatty acids had significantly less body weight and, specifically, body fat[3].

It Gets Even Better!

Not only do you store less body fat, studies have shown that medium chain fatty acids also increase the oxidation of long chain fatty acids that are already in your body, tucked away in your love handles! So not only does it prevent weight gain, it aids in weight loss.[4] Similar to the animal studies, medium chain fatty acids also boost energy production in humans by speeding up metabolism.[5] Finally, for those with cholesterol problems, this study found that people with high triglyceride levels who were given medium chain fatty acids for eight weeks had a 14.5% decrease in their triglyceride levels! [6]

Bottom line: for those of you that have completely lost focus:

1. Coconut oil, which is a medium chain fatty acid, is metabolized by a different process than long chain fatty acids, this process expedites use as energy instead of storage.

2. Because the body has to preferentially burn the fat off, it ramps up the metabolism by increasing thermogenesis.

3. This ramping up of the metabolism then proceeds to not only burn off coconut oil, but long chain fatty acids pre-existing the consumption of coconut oil.

4. These effects have been demonstrated both in animal studies, and more importantly, human studies as well.


[1] (Lipids 22 (6): 442-444).
[2] (Journal of Nutrition 125 (3):531-9)
[3] (The Journal of Nutrition 131 (11): 2853-2859)
[4] (International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity 24 (9): 1158-1166)
[5] (Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental 38 (7): 641-648)

[6] (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 63 (7): 879-886).

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© 2011, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible.

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