Animal Fats a Source of Toxins?
A dietician sent me an email last week questioning the wisdom of consuming full fat foods due to the potential for stored toxins in the fat. This is apparently the recommendation of The Environmental Working Group (EWG) which urges members to use lowfat/skim dairy products to reduce exposure to toxins that may be contained in the whole fat portion of those same products.
Those of you who read this blog know that I myself eat a high fat diet and have for many years. During the winter months, my fat consumption approaches 60% of my caloric intake. In the summer, it is closer to 50%. The fat I consume is primarily saturated fat in the form of whole milk, cheese, eggs, kefir, cream, butter, and the fat in the meat of grassfed animals. This mimics the seasonal fat intake of traditional Northern European cultures, from which I obtain my genetic heritage.
If you wish to determine the appropriate fat intake for your personal cultural heritage, I suggest you read the epic and ground breaking work of Dr. Weston A. Price, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
On a side note, don’t believe the doctor-speak baloney that saturated fat will clog up your arteries and give you a heart attack. It’s the factory fats (margarine, vegetable oils, transfats) and sugar laden processed foods that will cause problems, NOT whole, natural fats from grassfed animals such as our chronic disease free ancestors ate for thousands of years. Remember, the saturated fat laden egg has been exonerated as a cause of heart attack or stroke after decades of demonization (source: American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, July/Aug 2009)!
Are you still eating egg white omelets? You are waayyyyy behind the times, my friend!
Saturated fat does not cause heart attack or stroke! When will our “behind the 8 ball” medical system wake up to the facts and stop recommending the devastating, diabetes and chronic disease promoting lowfat diet to the American public?
Ok, sorry about that digression. The pulse got racing a bit … back to the toxins in fat question.
Am I concerned about EWG’s warnings about toxins stored in the fat of animals?
The short answer is, no, I am most certainly not. Here’s why:
- You cannot hope to be healthy for the long term without consuming plenty of whole, saturated fats. Animal fats are where all the vitamin A/D/K is located and if you avoid it, you are going to have some serious nutritional deficiencies to deal with. Supplements can never take the place of food, so opting for the supplement rather than food route doesn’t work nearly as effectively unless they are whole food based such as cod liver oil or butter oil.
- A well nourished body can handle the toxins that come its way, but a poorly nourished body that exists in a toxin free bubble will fall apart anyway. In other words, you have to eat the fat whether or not it is loaded with toxins or you will become nutritionally deficient. If you get what you need nutritionally, your body will be strong and able to eliminate the toxins that come along with little problem. Trying to avoid toxins by eating lowfat is foolish, though, as you will become nutritionally deficient this way and your health will deteriorate even if every mouthful of food you ever eat is 100% organic and toxin free! In short, always choose nutrition first. With the nutrition, you have a good chance at health; without it you have no chance even if the food choices are toxin free.
- The point above about eating fat regardless of whether or not it has toxins in it does not mean that you should not actively seek out clean sources of fat! I was simply outlining the worst case scenario – if I could only get animal fat by eating SPAM, then I would eat SPAM rather than not get any animal fat at all. The good news is that you can find sources of
So, seek out clean, grassfed sources of whole fats from farmers in your local area and get the best of both worlds: healthy, toxin free fats! Put aside the short sighted and misinformed warnings about the toxins in animal fats from vegetarian/vegan groups or organizations like EWG. You must consume animal fats to be healthy (and to reproduce successfully and have healthy offspring, incidentally).
Fat avoidance particularly of animal fats is not an option for those who seek vibrant, chronic disease free health.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.