Demonized foods: truth or lies?

by Catherine Haug, February 20, 2013

Mainstream media and even your doctor tout certain foods as ‘good for you’ and others as ‘bad for you,’ but is there truth in their admonitions?  Mercola and several other health sites (1,2,6) have recently identified 10 or so foods that are popular in the media as either good or bad for health, and then discuss the truth (or lack thereof) of the assertions. I’d like to focus on a few of these; call them my ‘nutritional pet peeves.’


  • Eggs
  • Fats, especially saturated fats
  • High protein diet, especially animal protein


  • Milk
  • Vegetable oils (soy, canola, etc.
  • High-carb diet

Read on for discussion and detail on these food issues.

Demonized Eggs

If the warnings against eggs, especially egg yolks, were valid, there would be no more birds, turtles, fish, or any other animal that comes from an egg. OK, perhaps that’s a bit extreme. But really, eggs are one of nature’s perfect foods – that is why so many species are ‘born’ from an egg.

Yes, egg yolks contain cholesterol, but all animals need cholesterol for many body functions, not the least of which is carrying fatty fuels to the cells that need them. Furthermore, eggs also contain the components of lecithin, which are essential for liver health – especially the liver’s ability to metabolize fats and other lipids including cholesterol.

Furthermore, there is plenty of scientific evidence that cholesterol really isn’t so bad for you. Rather, it is the canary in the mine: when your blood cholesterol levels are high, this is a warning that something may not be right. But that ‘something’ isn’t the cholesterol. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Eggs are also rich in other important nutrients including:

  • high quality protein including all 9 essential amino acids;
  • vitamins A and D (especially eggs from pasture-raised poultry);
  • other carotenoids such as zeaxanthin and lutein so important for eyes;
  • choline (a B-vitamin and one of the components of lecithin) essential for normal cell function, especially in the liver;
  • other B-vitamins including folate (B9), thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), and cobalamin (B12);
  • vitamin E
  • several essential trace elements (minerals) including calcium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

Demonized Fats, especially saturated fats

I would venture that a majority of Americans believe that eating fat leads to weight gain, a belief that has led to the low-fat dietary craze. Furthermore, the fats from animals are demonized more than vegetable-based fat; for example, eating margarine made from soy, corn and/or canola oil is believed to be more healthful than butter.

Where did this belief come from?

Some may site scientific studies, but ultimately, almost all of those studies are highly flawed (bad science). They were largely funded by a few particular industries who saw the potential for huge profits, if they could create a market. This funding came from:

  • Factory farms and the biotech industry that provide the seeds (a.k.a ‘Big Ag’), and
  • The petroleum industry that provides the base for synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides used by Big Ag.

Why? It’s all about creating a market for these new cooking oils. In times past, they didn’t have that market, as people relied on animal fats (lard, butterfat, etc.). So they launched a campaign to create a market through lies and half-truths. OK, call me a conspiracy theorist, but if you dig into it, you’ll find I’m right. See Modern Nutrition Policy is Based on Lies and Bad Science (6) for more detail. See also a new study: Study raises questions about dietary fats and heart disease guidance (5). See also Fats-To saturate or not (LeVaux) (8).

What’s good about fats?

So, then, what’s good about fats, especially animal fats? Well first off, dietary fats won’t  necessarily make you fat. In fact, stored body fat comes primarily from excess dietary carbohydrates and sugars, not from dietary fats. Yes, its true. When you eat more carbs than you need for energy, the excess goes to the liver to be converted to palmitic acid, then attached to a triglyceride, packaged in a cholesterol carrier, and sent into the blood destined for fat storage cells. Whereas fats are used by the body, for energy and many other functions, and are rarely stored in the fat cells.

Some fats have very important health functions, and many of those are saturated fats. Say what? Yes, you read it right. Think coconut oil, which is now a darling of the health food industry for good reason. But did you know that butterfat (cream) has many of the same fats as coconut? And then there is the other darling: mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil. But did you know that lard (from pigs) is also fairly high in mono-usaturates?

Here are some of the benefits of fats:

  • stabilize cell walls
  • provide fuel for the heart and brain
  • important for proper immune function
  • important for healthy liver function
  • antimicrobial (especially the short- and medium-chain fatty acids)
  • switch cell-membrane receptors (such as insulin receptors) on/off
  • regulate inflammation
  • insulate nerve tissue
  • discourage overeating

If you want to give up a fat, make it the vegetable oils (corn, soy, canola) that are heated to high temperature for deep fat frying – think french fries, fried chicken buckets. See Praised: Vegetable Oils, below, for more.

Demonized high protein diet (especially animal protein)

The warnings against a high-protein diet come primarily from those who believe that protein is acidifying rather than alkalizing, because protein digestion causes leaching of minerals from your bones. While it is true that calcium is ‘borrowed’ from bones in the short term for protein digestion. But our bodies have special hormones that regulate this borrowing and subsequent replacement. And several long-term studies show that protein is associated with improved bone health! See: JMBR: Effect of dietary protein on bone loss in elderly men and women: the Framingham Osteoporosis study (3).

Eating a high protein diet also helps to lower blood pressure and improve diabetes symptoms. (1)

How much protein?

For an interesting take on this topic, see Protein – How Much is Too Much (7).

Animal vs plant protein

Animal protein provides some essential amino acids such as lysine that are not common in vegetable sources. Our body systems, our enzymes are already geared toward processing amino acids and peptides within our own bodies, so are better set-up to process those from other animals.  Animal protein has higher concentration of the sulfur-containing amines, such as cysteine which is so important as a precursor to glutathione, which is important for detox and other immune response,

It is certainly possible to mix plant protein sources to get all the essential amino acids, and indeed, that is one of the hallmarks of the vegetarian diet.  But one thing noticeably lacking in protein plant foods is vitamin B12.

One issue with obtaining protein from animal sources is that commercially-raised animals are often kept in confinement conditions and not fed a diet that is natural to them. Their feed may contain GMO soy or corn, and may be laced with antibiotics. It is possible to avoid this problem, however, by obtaining your meats and other animal products locally, from farmers and ranchers you trust.

Praised: “Milk Does Your Body Good”

This is a slogan of the American Dairy industry, to promote their conventional, pasteurized or  ultra-pasteurized milk and dairy products. They tout that it is high in calcium and vitamins. They remind you that as an infant you probably drank mothers milk.

Well, there is a very wide gap between mothers milk and conventional milk. For one thing, the milk from a mother’s breast is rarely pasteurized, but rather is consumed warm and raw from the breast. “What’s wrong with pasteurization?” you ask. “I thought it made milk safe to drink by killing all the bacteria,” you add, questioningly.

Before going further, I must admit to strong bias here: I am a raw-milk advocate. But pasteurization does have it’s place as in my cautionary note, below.


Well it’s true, pasteurization does kill all those bacteria in the raw milk. But did you know that is good, clean milk, those bugs are actually good for you? They support your immune functions and aid in digestion of other foods. They are what we call ‘probiotics.’ Furthermore, once those bugs have been killed by pasteurization, the milk is no longer protected by them and can become the home of pathogens, or bad bugs.

[CAUTIONARY NOTE: Raw milk from cows raised and milked in unsanitary conditions can contain pathogenic bacteria and should always be pasteurized before consumption. But raw milk from clean cows with clean udders and fed in pasture, is protected from pathogens by all the good bacteria in the milk who produce specific antimicrobials that keep the bad guys away.]

Apart from the bacteria issue, pasteurization has other problems for milk. The proteins in milk are denatured by the heat. What does that mean? It means that the proteins lose their natural shape and configuration so that natural systems (your cells) no longer recognize them as food, but rather as allergens.

People who have tried to make cheese from conventional milk find that it will not curd like raw milk, and so can not be made into cheese (unless calcium is added). The reason for this is the denatured proteins no longer hold calcium in a way that allows the milk to curd. In fact, the calcium in such milk is not available for absorption, either.

So when the ads say milk is high in calcium, that is a half-truth. Yes, there’s lots of calcium there, but your body cannot get to it and it is flushed out in your stool.

Further, the high heat of pasteurization destroys some and diminishes other vitamins present in raw milk: vitamins A, C, D, B6, and B12. This is why conventional milk is ‘fortified’ – they add synthetic versions of these vitamins to replace those natural versions that are lost. However, the synthetic versions are not as effective, and if consumed in large amounts, may actually cause harm.

Improper diet for dairy cows

Apart from pasteurization, conventional milk has other issues as well. These cows are fed a diet of corn and soy which is probably GMO (unless it’s Organic feed). Plus, most dairy animals like cows and goats are not meant to eat seed: they don’t have the stomachs of chickens to grind up the seeds. Instead, cow’s stomachs are geared for ingesting and fermenting grass. Yes, corn is a grass, but cows were meant to eat only the leaves of the corn plant, not the seeds. And goats are meant to browse among shrubs – to eat the tender branches, leaves and berries, not the large seeds of corn and soy.

When these animals eat a diet of seeds, their stomachs become too acidic, a condition that promotes the growth of harmful bacteria like the harmful strains of E. coli that have caused so many deaths in recent years. Whereas the stomachs of cows fed in pasture make these pathogenic bacteria uncomfortable so that they do not take up residence, and hence do not promote this type of disease.

So, yes, Milk Does a Body Good – but only if it is raw milk. And, sadly, raw milk is illegal in Montana (unless you own the cow/goat/sheep/buffalo).

Praised vegetable seed oils

Popular media information encourages the consumption of poly-unstaruated fats to prevent heart disease. But this is a half-truth. SOME of those fats do prevent heart disease, but MOST of them actually raise your risk of heart disease.

If you want to give up a fat, make it the vegetable oils (corn, soy, canola) that are heated to high temperature for deep fat frying – think french fries, fried chicken buckets. Even if you don’t consider that these fats are already rancid in the bottle even before putting them into the deep fat fryer, posing a threat to our health through free radicals, consider that the high heat of a deep fat fryer turns those fats into dangerous free radicals. And those free radicals lead to arterial damage and heart disease.

The problem is in the production

Don’t get me wrong, the poly-unstaturated oils in corn, for example, do have their health benefit – when they are consumed as kernels of corn. They were not meant to be extracted as pure oil. How do I know? Because normal mechanisms for pressing oil from seeds do not work for large-scale extraction of corn, canola and soy oils. Instead, these seeds are treated to extremely high temperatures and high pressure to give up their oil. And that treatment creates free radicals.

Not to mention that most of these oils come from GMO crops.

So, if you want to get your daily dose of Omega-6 oils, eat corn on the cob. Or buy cold-pressed, Organic corn or safflower oil and use that for salad dressings or other cool applications. Do not heat them. And make sure that you balance these fats, 1:1, with Omega-3 oils such as those from flax seeds, cold water fish (like salmon), fish oil, or cod liver oil.

Omega-6 vs Omega-3 fats

What’s the difference between Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats? Well, apart from their structural differences, the main distinction is that for the most part, Omega-6 fats (corn, soy, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed) are pro-imflammatory, while Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory.  In lay terms, this means that too much Omega-6 fats can lead to clogged arteries, while adequate dietary Omega-3 fats help to heal the damage.

See Mercola’s article for more detail: Omega-6 Fats in Processed and Deep Fried Foods Can Massively Increase Your Heart Disease Risk (4,5). See also  Fats-To saturate or not (LeVaux) (8).

Praised: High Carb Diet

The USDA’s most recent food pyramid and the new ‘food plate’ gives carbs the largest portion of the pyramid/plate – at nearly 75% of the plate. The primary carb in the pyramid is whole grains, presumably because of the fiber they provide.

But I think there’s another conspiracy theory here – or perhaps just the same one: Big Ag and Big Oil both need to create and sustain a market for consumption of GMO crops, and in this case, it’s corn, soy, wheat and other grains (although so far, wheat and rice are the only grains widely available in GMO versions; but its only a matter of time).

All this focus on carbs fuels interest in the vegetarian and vegan diets which do lead to amazing health turn-arounds for some people. But not everyone. Mercola is an advocate of Nutritional Typing as a guide to the diet that is best for you.

  • Some people are ‘carb types‘ and do amazingly well on a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diet (the latter allows fish and some poultry), because their bodies thrive when they burn carbs for fuel. Generally, these are people whose ancestors came from tropical regions, where carbs are abundant year round.
  • Others are ‘protein types‘ and don’t do well on a high-carb diet, even though many carbs such as certain grains and beans are high in protein. These types need the fat that comes with animal protein as their primary fuel, and the protein as their secondary fuel. Generally, these are people whose ancestors came from countries above and below the tropics: Europe, the northern parts of North America and Asia, the southern parts of South America, Africa and Australia. All of these are regions where carbs are not abundant year round.
  • A third category of ‘mixed types‘ are the lucky ones who thrive on all-of-the-above, and they are rare.

What happens when you stray into a diet that doesn’t match your nutritional type? Probably nothing noticeable at first. But in the long term, protein types who eat a high-carb diet develop insulin and blood-sugar problems known as ‘metabolic syndrome.’ They are at high risk for problems like obesity, heart disease, osteoarthritis, stroke, and diabetes. Indeed, this is very evident in America today, and with each generation, it happens at a younger age. 60years ago it was unheard of for anyone under 70 to have a heart attack; now teenagers have them. 60 years ago, type-2 diabetes was considered a rare disease of the elderly; now it is extremely common, even among teens.

Another issue with many carbs is how they are prepared. There is very strong evidence that grains and beans should be sprouted or fermented before consuming, to break down the anti-nutrients (like gluten and phytates) that pose significant health issues over the long haul. Yet most high-carb foods today are made from highly processed grains and beans that have not been sprouted or fermented: breads, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals, and bean dishes like chili and soups. Yes, all of these can be made from sprouted/fermented grains or beans, but our processed food industry doesn’t bother.

And we pay the consequences.

For more information:

Related articles on The EssentiaList

  1. Hi-Carb, Low-Carb, No-Carb
  2. New USDA diet recommendations: My Food Plate
  3. Dairy Fat: Healthful or Not?
  4. Why processed food & fast food is cheap
  5. 20 Most-Healthful Foods in your Grocery Store
  6. Milk War


  1. Top 11 Biggest Lies of Mainstream Nutrition
  2. Mercola: 10 Lies and Misconceptions Spread By Mainstream Nutrition
  3. JMBR: Effect of dietary protein on bone loss in elderly men and women: the Framingham Osteoporosis study.
  4. Omega-6 Fats in Processed and Deep Fried Foods Can Massively Increase Your Heart Disease Risk
  5. Study raises questions about dietary fats and heart disease guidance
  6. Modern Nutrition Policy is Based on Lies and Bad Science
  7. Protein – How Much is Too Much
  8. Fats-To saturate or not (LeVaux)

2 Responses to “Demonized foods: truth or lies?”

  1. Faye Lomax says:

    Thanks for summing all this up. I’ve watched and read and “gleaned” for years all the details included in your Fat/Carbs report and am pleased to have all my gleaning validated. Thanks so much for all your efforts.

  2. Catherine says:

    You’re welcome, Faye. It’s readers like you who let me know what they think of my postings – good or bad – that makes this effort worthwhile.

    I think it’s time that the mainstream media catch up with science as it progresses beyond the 1970s. Not that science is always right. But when science finally wakes up and validates what humans have known for millennia, about what foods are good for them, that’s worth taking note.

    Now if only technology (as in GMOs) would see the light.