What’s the skinny on fats?

This is one of my favorite topics to discuss with my clients as it highlights both the good and the bad about the science of nutrition.  So, what is the skinny on fat?  Read on.

Back long, long ago, fat was demonized.  If you ate fat, you got fat, right?  Low-fat dietary guidelines were released in 1977 and the food industry jumped aboard and created fat-free foods that we all ate with abandon.  Mmmm, Entenmann’s…..

Interestingly enough, guess what statistic rose accordingly?


Obesity.  Hmmm.  Makes you think, right?  So when the food companies removed traditional fat (like butter) from their products, what was used as a replacement?  Yep.  Sugar.  Refined carbohydrates.  And the consumption of highly processed, sugar-laden foods began in earnest.  This is an example of the aforementioned bad nutrition.  Oopsie.

Fast forward to present-day nutrition.  What scientists are discovering is that there are many factors that go into health and picking one nutrient, i.e. saturated fat, as the culprit out of all the nutrients we consume isn’t the answer.  As Dr. Robert M. Knauss, director of atherosclerosis research at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute states, “It doesn’t make sense to focus on just one feature of the diet, such as saturated fat, while ignoring the health affects of the overall diet.”

I sat in on a lecture given by Dr. Knauss who spoke at length on this topic and his specialty: SIZE MATTERS when it comes to cholesterol particles.

Who knew?

LDL is comprised of subclasses of particles with differing cholesterol content and cardiovascular risk: large (the “good” kind), medium, and small (the “bad” kind).  (using good and bad to describe the particles isn’t quite accurate, but helps to simplify things)  The SMALL particles are the ones with which to be concerned because they are dense, enter the arterial walls easier, and have a greater tendency to cause plaque buildup.

Saturated fats generally contain more of the LARGE particles that are the “good” LDL.  Hence, while saturated fats raise not only your HDL, but also your LDL, it is the good kind of LDL.  Conclusion: butter is not the problem.

So what, you may ask, raises the “bad” kind of LDL?  Refined carbs.  Sugars.  White bread, pasta, and rice.  Those not only RAISE the small LDL particles, they also LOWER your HDL.  As Dr. Knauss stated, “Carbohydrates (especially sugars) have a major influence on smaller LDL particles.”

So does that mean we can eat saturated fat to our heart’s content?  Not so fast.  What Dr. Knauss went on to state was that it MATTERS where the fat is coming from.  Higher red meat intake is associated with increased mortality:

Red meat

However saturated fat from dairy is associated with LOWER risks:


Fat dairy

I don’t know about you, but I think this is really interesting stuff and is an example of what I called the “good” nutrition.

What’s the conclusion from all of this?  Simply that focusing on saturated fats is the wrong strategy.  Rather, focus on the big picture: what FOODS you are eating, not what NUTRIENTS you are eating.  And the diet that Dr. Knauss recommends?  One that is filled with lean protein, vegetables, and many kinds of fats (both saturated and unsaturated), with little to no consumption of sugars and refined carbohydrates.

Bottom line on fats?  No, they aren’t the pariah we all once thought they were, but neither are they something to consume with abandon.  Moderation, people.  Covers pretty much everything!

Questions?  Thoughts?  I’d love to hear from you.  Post a comment below!

Eat well.


Coffee talk. Can we talk?

Please tell me someone got that reference.  I’m not the only person who watched SNL in the ‘90s, right??  Awesome.


So, coffee.  Coffee is one of those topics, at least in the nutrition world, that can get confusing.  Is it good for you or is it to be avoided like the plague?  I like to go to the science when I weigh in on a potentially divisive topic and I’ve got lots of it when it comes to coffee.


Back in May I attended Dr. Andrew Weil’s nutrition and health conference in Dallas, Texas.  It was filled with presentations by leading scientists in the field.  One such scientist was Dr. Frank Hu who is a professor of Nutrition & Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health; Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School.  He’s a really smart guy. Dr. Hu presented a study that caught my attention.


Hold on to your hats.  This is good stuff.  In the study they found that those who had increased their coffee intake by more than one cup a day over a four-year period had an 11% LOWER RISK of having type 2 diabetes.  Got that? That is HUGE!!  If they drank MORE coffee than they had been, they LOWERED their risk of diabetes.


That’s not all.  Participants who decreased their consumption by more than a cup a day were at a 17% GREATER RISK of having type 2 diabetes.  Let me say that again.  If they CUT their coffee intake, they RAISED their risk of Type 2 Diabetes.  Science graph:




This was not the case for tea or for decaffeinated coffee, though.  Hmmm.  Wonder why?  Well one hypothesis Dr. Hu threw out during the presentation was that it could have something to do with the chlorogenic acid found in coffee which is a potent antioxidant.  Tea does not contain it, and through the decaffeination process, decaf coffee loses much of it.  Interesting, right?


Wait – there’s more!


Coffee drinkers also have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Yep.  That scary disease that is on the rise?  A study published in the Journal Of Alzheimer’s Disease found that people who drank coffee have a 65% lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Now THAT is interesting information.  And the sweet spot in most of the studies I’ve looked at is 3-5 8-ounce cups of coffee PER DAY.  Not occasionally drinking coffee.  Drinking 3-5 cups of coffee every day.   Here’s your graph:




Now, I want to be very clear.  I am NOT talking about this kind of “coffee”:



That is not coffee.  That is a milkshake, people.  Don’t fool yourselves.  If you buy a grande Carmel Flan Frappucino from Starbucks, you are drinking 390 calories and a whopping 60g of sugar.  60 grams!!!!!  That is 15 teaspoons of sugar.  15 teaspoons!  OF SUGAR!  So bad.  So, so bad.  Nope.  Not talking about that.  I’m talking about regular coffee.  Black with maybe some half & half or some whole milk or some almond milk.  That’s it.  Nothing else.


In case anyone is still reading, the recipe today is for Cold Brew Coffee.  Not really a recipe, more instructions.  Many possibilities abound on the Internet, but I purchased this contraption which cuts out many of the steps in some of the DIY-style methods.  Why Cold Brew Coffee?  This method extracts the wonderful flavor of the coffee bean without the bitter acids and fatty oils.  I love it.  Very smooth and refreshing.

Ready?  Here you go:

  1. Fill it with cold filtered water.
  2. Place fresh, coarsely ground coffee in the filter basket.
  3. Pour more cold filtered water over the grounds until the container is filled.
  4. Let it sit in your refrigerator from anywhere to 12-24 hours and, voila!  Coffee.

Now this coffee is concentrated, so it is meant to be diluted.  Drink this straight and you just may be up for days.  Not recommended.

If you have any questions or comments or have your own favorite cold brew recipe, I’d love to hear from you!

Eat well.



I’m back! Did you miss me?

Where, you may be asking, have I been??  Or, maybe you haven’t been wondering that because your life is a little busy and well, I’m not at the forefront of you thoughts – I get it.  So, to fill you in, I’ve been gone for awhile.  But I’m back and ready to debut my brand new website, new logo, and new direction for my business.


This new direction is just much more me and, in my opinion, much more effective at helping people reach their health goals.  Which is my driving passion and why I do what I do.

So here’s the nuts and bolts of it:  instead of working with people in 1-on-1 counseling sessions, I am getting into people’s kitchens and working with them to create individualized menus that work for themselves and their families.  I start by coming to their house and cleaning out their pantries and then design weekly meal plans complete with recipes and shopping lists.  Cool, huh?!

It is my fervent belief that no matter WHAT kind of food you eat, you will be healthier if you are preparing it at home.  And my menus are based on what YOU want to eat, not what I eat.

Which is why I am now calling myself a Kitchen Coach.

So please, go poke around on my new site and, truly, give me some feedback.  Let me know what you think.  And, if you like it, forward it on to a friend or two.

DON’T CLOSE THIS EMAIL YET!!!  I have a present for you! Click here to download my FREE two week menu plan with recipes.  No more reading cookbooks or flipping through magazines.  I do that work for you!

Now, get cooking everyone.