Thursday, 1 November 2018

November 2018: fat - the latest research

It's a pity that the English word 'fat' has two meanings. As well as 'not exactly thin', it means: the stuff we need like the air we breathe, the nutrient-rich traditional fats which have fed humankind for thousands of years, and which we can still eat happily, as long as we do it right.
Eating fat does not make fat in the body. On the contrary: to be healthy, you need your fats. It’s the (hidden) sugars and refined carbs which make you obese.
So what different kinds of fat are there, and which of them do we need?

Saturated fat. For over forty years now, it’s been reviled as an artery clogging, obesity-causing poison. This idea has become so widely accepted that a lot of people who want to improve their diet, start by purchasing skimmed milk.
However, in 2010 it was found that the study which established this ‘fact’, had been deeply flawed: saturated fat is not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Numerous other studies have reached this same conclusion. Saturated fat has actually many positive effects, on liver health, immunity and hormones. 
But not every kind of fat is healthy. The body does love saturated fat, but only from sources like butter, whole eggs, and grass-fed meat. As early as 1994 a scientist warned that “current trends favouring increased intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids should be reconsidered” [a].
In 2014, a large, comprehensive assessment of the relation between dietary fats and heart health concluded:
1. There is no good evidence to fear fats which are found naturally in our food supply - including saturated fat.
2. Processed fats (e.g. industrially produced trans fats) however, should be avoided.
In fact, at the root of heart problems is inflammation: arterial plaque is actually full of unsaturated fats [b]. 

In other words: eat real, unprocessed food, and forget about the amount and the types of fat in that food [c].
There are other reasons to forego the skim. Full-fat dairy fills us up properly, which means that we don’t need to go on mindlessly snacking on convenience foods. It also slows down the release of sugars into our bloodstream, giving us energy which lasts [d]. 
Which is one more reason to fry in saturated fats like butter and lard, rather than use the always recommended olive oil. The fats in olive oil are not heat-stable. It has a low smoking point, making it unsuitable for temperatures above 121°C (250°F). Due to its low smoke point, it produces toxic smoke, and the valuable Ω3 fatty acids can’t stand the heat. Cook with (real!) butter and animal fat, or coconut oil [e].
You can still use olive oil as long as you don’t heat it too much: see [f]. 

See myth no 14 in PDF: ’Dietmyths’: click under November on the right hand side of this page.
And by the way, if you are worried about cholesterol, check out the Thought of November 2013.


Veg: Brussels', beet, sprout tops, cabbage, celeriac, celery (with Stilton!), corn salad, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, salsify, kale, kohlrabi, landcress, leeks, parsnips, pumpkin/squash, rocket, spinach, swede, turnips, winter/white radish, endive, winter purslane, cavolo nero.
Fish: megrim, clams, hake, crab, cuttlefish, mussels, oysters, scallops, whiting.
Meat: wood pigeon, pheasant, wild duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison. For (Christmas) game recipes, see

Sow broad beans and peas. And you can still try sow American landcress, Chinese leaves, winter lettuce and corn salad.
Plant rhubarb sets, autumn onion sets, spring cabbage. And garlic: it likes sun, and woodash.
Give brassicas attention before the winter. Firm soil around stems, mulch with rotted manure, maybe support with canes. Pick off yellowing leaves.
As ground becomes vacant, dig it over and spread manure. Leave it roughly dug in large clumps and the worms will break them up.
If you leave veg in the ground, apply a thick mulch (straw, bracken), both for protection and to get them out more easily.



Crumbly blue cheese, cooked chestnuts, bitter green leaves like radicchio or endive, dressing, orange juice.
Crumble up the cheese, cut up the chestnuts, and tear the leaves. Mix it all with your usual salad dressing and add a teaspoon or two of orange juice. 

450g ground lamb or beef, 1/2tsp salt, 1/4tsp pepper, 1 chopped onion, 5tblsp butter, ab. 450g cleaned chopped cabbage (weighed after cleaning), 1 tin chopped tomatoes not drained, (cumin if you like), 480ml cooked rice/millet/pasta.
Season the beef with salt and black pepper. Brown on high heat in fat. Crumble it into large pieces. Remove from the pan, then add in the onion and 2tblsp butter. Cook for 3-4 mins or until just browning. Remove the onions to the same dish as the beef. Add 2 more tblsp butter and cabbage to the pan and cook on high heat until the cabbage is wilted and browned. Add the beef/onion mix, the rice and tomato. Season and stir gently, then cook for 5-7 mins, covered.

Cook peeled and cut-up turnips and sliced onion or garlic in butter or fat until tender. If using garlic, only add it to the pan quite late or it may burn. Add the turnip greens and cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. 

2 slices firm bread, 225g crabmeat, 1.5tblsp oil, 1tsp lemon juice plus wedges, 1/2tsp Worcestershire or soy sauce, 1 large egg, beaten, 2tblsp butter.
Tear bread into small pieces, mix with crab. Add oil, Worcestershire/soy, egg, salt. Mix gently but thoroughly, form into patties. Heat butter until foam subsides: cook crab cakes, turning once, until golden.

For more recipes see November issues from former years. Or go to, which still has eight recipes for this year. 
We also have an alphabetical index of subjects, which you will see if you click on this month, in the top right hand corner.
Next month: indigestion. To see this now, go to and scroll down.