Moment of truth: quiz answers

If you haven’t done the quiz yet, what are you waiting for?

Aaaaand… drum roll… here are the answers!

1. Predominant fat in lard is monounsaturated. Yes, just like in olive oil. The composition of lard is as follows:
Saturated fat – 38-43%
Monounsaturated fat – 47-50%
Polyunsaturated fat 6-10%
It is a common misconception that animal fat = saturated fat. Most animal fats like lard or beef tallow have loads of monounsaturated fatty acids. Even butter contains around 30%. In addition 12-15% of saturated fat in lard is in form of stearic acid, which is converted by the liver to oleic acid( = more monounsaturated fat!).

2. Saturated fat consumption has decreased over the last 100 years.
According to this paper, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, saturated fat consumption in the US reduced from 16.6% in 1950-1959 down to 11.8% in 1980-1985. At the same time period the number of obese people has increased from 9.7% to 35% in women (33% in men).

3. Triglycerides are blood fats measured when you have a cholesterol test or a lipid profile test. It is very tempting to reason that fat in the diet raises fat in your blood. Sounds so simple and logical? But… The diet component most responsible for high triglycerides is carbohydrates. Consumed in excess, they get converted in the liver into triglycerides and transported to fat tissue for storage. The process is called “de novo lipogenesis” (new fat formation). Dr William Davies, a cardiologist from the US, describes it well here.

4. HDL is sometimes called “good cholesterol” and we are advised to eat foods which increase HDL to reduce our risk of heart disease. Low carb diets are found to raise HDL.

5. Glycemic index classifies carbohydrates by how much they raise blood glucose. We are told to stick to low GI foods for weight loss and diabetes management.
Baked potato – 101
“Frosties” – 55
“Peanut M&M’s” – 33
Muesli bar with dried fruit – 61
Super supreme pan pizza – 36
Eggs – 0
It seems blindingly obvious that GI system has major flaws as nobody in their right mind would consider M&M’s healthier than a potato. Eggs, beef, lamb, pork and other animal products have a GI of zero.

6. Cholesterol levels are tightly regulated in our bodies as this substance performs many vital functions. Up to 80% of cholesterol is synthesized in the body with 20% coming from dietary sources. When you reduce dietary sources of cholesterol, your cells try to increase their own cholesterol production to make up the difference. 

7. Our heart prefers fat in form of fatty acids as its main fuel source. Ketones, which are formed when the body burns fats, make up around 1/3 of the heart’s requirements. During fasting conditions, they provide up to 60-70% of the heart’s energy.

8. Vitamin A (retinol) is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for growth and repair, healthy bones and teeth, good eyesight, thyroid and immune system.
Vitamin A concentration in mcg for 100 g:
Liver 23000
Full fat milk 28
Butter 895
Sweet potato 700
Eggs 200
Carrots 8000
Carrots and sweet potatoes are traditionally advised as a good source of vitamin A. However vitamin A in plants is in the form on beta-carotene which has to be converted to retinol at a ratio of 6:1. In addition, your body needs fat to absorb vitamin A. So slather some butter on those veggies!

9. It is a common misconception that your body needs a constant top-up of carbohydrates to keep the bloods sugar up. If I could have a dollar for every time I heard someone say: “My blood sugar is dropping after my gym session. I better get a Gatorade/piece of fruit/cereal bar”. Somehow I don’t think that our ancestors were munching every 3-4 hours to avoid a blood sugar drop. Any biochemistry textbook will tell you that our body has several hormones, the job of which is to keep your blood sugar up. They do it by switching to fat-burning for energy, releasing glycogen (stored form of glucose) into the blood and using ketones to provide energy for the brain. Muscle protein is spared for as long as possible.

10. Saturated fats and trans fats are often lumped together although they have vastly different structure and effects on the body. The only thing they have in common is that they are solid at room temperature. Trans fats are highly processed vegetable oils, hydrogenated to resemble butter. They have been linked to obesity, heart disease and cancer. Mary G. Enig, a renowned expert in lipid biochemistry, gives an excellent explanation on fats here.

So how did you go? Please send me some comments with your thoughts: what you knew, what surprised you, what you want me to cover in greater detail.

I am still working on Resources page but I promise to get it going soon.

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17 thoughts on “Moment of truth: quiz answers

  1. Keep the clear explanations coming! I very much enjoy the links to references and experts who are not trying to sell anything other than what is true and backed up with documented evidence.

    • Yes I suppose you would know if I was secretly sponsored by a local butcher. Bags of fresh meat on our doorstep would look a bit suspicious, eh?

  2. Its been difficult for me for Breakfast, finding alternative foods- marketing plays a big part I think- these companies will have a lot to answer for in years to come. I find if I plan ahead a little I can have a big cooked up breakfast and I am not craving food around mid morning anymore, I can easily go through to lunch and still have the mental energy to complete my job, I dont feel lethargic because I have a sugar hit and then feel sleepy and grumpy. I am discovering food that is fresh, natural and full of everything I need to get through my day. Including my exercise……. I am loving nuts, fresh salads, meats of all kinds, eggs in abbundance, whole milk, fresh leafy greens , fish, butter, blueberries, I dont eat ANY processed food. All we need now is a little corner store with Fruit/Veg/Meat/Dairy.

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  4. I failed miserably except for the triglyceride question. And that is only because I read your recent entry about carbohydrates & insulin first. 🙂

    Thanks for a great lesson on food and health.

    • I confess I wrote the questions that I knew most people would get wrong, mainly due to the amount of misinformation out there. You are very welcome.

  5. Just Stumbled onto your great little blog as a result of a link put up on facebook by your other half.
    I like your line of questioning, a few curly questions to keep those interested on their toes. I did well, 8/10 right, I admit I didn’t get numbers for the GI q? but I had them in the right order.
    Guess I was a little lucky, in my 5 year Chiropractic degree we did 3 full nutrition units plus a very in depth biochemistry unit. Seems some of it is still bouncing around in the brains somewhere.
    Keep up the great work, the cheeky sense of humour mixed with great info is a pleasure to read.

    • Sounds like you did more nutrition than we have in a medical degree. Lucky I did a year of biochemistry in my first degree. Though it was pretty dry and lab-oriented. Feel free to throw some curly questions my way too.

  6. I actually did great–100%! Well, I didn’t get the numbers on the GI question–don’t have the tables memorized–but pretty much got the right order. But I have been researching this for about 6 years, now, since I first read one of Mary Enig’s books (I’ve read others now) and learned that we’ve been lied to for decades, at least in the US! I’m thrilled that a future doctor is actually using her head and not accepting at face value the garbage that passes for nutrition information and education in the mainstream and is spreading the word. Keep up the good work! We need more like you here in the US–I know you are based in Australia :(, no? We have a few–the Eades, Dr. Lustig, Dr. Richard Feinman, etc., but there are not enough to go around and most local doctors that one has to go to are still old school. My husband’s (former) doctor is a prime example. After he got my husband’s blood work back and saw that his blood glucose and triglycerides were a bit high, he handed us a pamphlet outlining a low fat (high carb) diet he wanted him to follow! Yeah, right. That’ll work to bring his TG and BG down. Luckily I knew better and dropped it in the trash. I do regret not questioning the doctor and making him try to explain why he thought that was what my husband needed, but…We haven’t been low fat for years, but have recently both gone VLC/HF and feel great. And we’re looking for a new doctor. If you move to Huntington Beach, CA in the US after you graduate, please shoot me an email. Thanks, Peggy

    • Well done on the quiz, Peggy. Regarding your husband’s doctor: what can I say? It’s like a knee-jerk reaction: just eat low-fat. Lucky for your husband he had you! Good luck with looking for a new one. Sounds like the movement is gathering some speed in the US. We are still crawling here in Oz.

  7. I aced this test, all except the glycemic index question, which I skipped. That makes me officially a health geek

    Now I have another test for you. This is from the comments on perfect health diet blog

    Paul : I am going to discuss Candida until everyone is sick of it
    Steve : Not so fast! Please present evidence for the role of discussion in the etiology of Candida albicans.
    Paul: Careful Steve, you don’t want to give me laughing sickness.

    If this makes you chuckle, it definitively makes you a health geek.

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