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A revised set of dietary guidelines for Australians was recently released by the National Health and Medical Research Council. For the first time in 30 years since the inception of dietary guidelines Australians are no longer advised to reduce their intake of total fat.  There have been a series of well controlled studies in the last 10 years reporting that a high fat intake does not increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer or even obesity! In fact, the high fat 'traditional' mediterranean diet has been linked to lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity!   However, mechanistic studies have found that the TYPE of fat is important for the prevention of these diseases. This explains why the revised guidelines focus on replacing saturated fat with mono and polyunsaturated fat and they specifically state:  
1) Limit intake of foods high in saturated fat such as many biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps and other savoury snacks.2)  Replace high fat foods which contain predominantly saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil with foods which contain predominantly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado. 
There is controversy surrounding the consumption of natural oils high in saturated fats (extra virgin coconut oil, coconut milk, red palm oil high in carotenoids/tocotrienols) or omega 6 fats (sunflower/safflower oil). Some studies suggest that the former are not detrimental but the latter may be detrimental if consumed in large amounts.
As the evidence emerges I will review them in my posts. In the mean time, enjoy eating a wide variety of extra virgin oils (added mainly to vegetables/fish etc to make more palatable) and avoid commercial foods high in animal fats or hydrogenated vegetable fats.  

 
 
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Recent studies have linked calcium supplements with an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke in older women. Taking vitamin D at the same time does not appear to reduce the risk.
Participants in these studies were mainly taking calcium carbonate (i.e chalk!) and calcium citrate supplements. The calcium in these supplements is not well absorbed and is usually not accompanied by other nutrients important for bone health, like magnesium, boron, vitamin K, silica. Calcium hydroxyapatite (or ground bone) may be better absorbed than calcium carbonate/citrate.
Supplements that contain calcium hydroxyapatite usually also have the desirable amount of magnesium in a 2:1 ratio (calcium:magnesium). Magnesium is important for the correct utilisation of calcium in the body. If you need to take a calcium supplement because your diet is very low in calcium (a dietitian will help you work this out) and have osteoporosis or osteopenia then it may be safer to take a supplement which does not contain calcium carbonate/citrate. Avoid taking more than 600mg of calcium per dose as your body cannot absorb more than this and avoid taking more than 600mg supplemental calcium per day. Also prefer taking your calcium supplement at night as it is better absorbed. If you have heart disease or are at high risk of heart disease/stroke then you may want to avoid all calcium supplements and prefer calcium from food. Other medical experts have commented that the data from this study are inconclusive about whether calcium supplements are unsafe. http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/news/radical-call-to-stop-calcium-supplements
Before commencing any supplements best to check with your doctor and dietitian.

 

    About this blog

    The purpose of this blog is to keep my patients, students and followers up-to-date with the latest in nutrition research, food products and nutriceuticals.

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    I have over 25 years experience in nutrition as an academic, researcher, clinical dietitian, co-author of 5 university text books, author of 3 of my own books and editor of a medical nutrition journal. My patients challenged me to develop a healthy gourmet biscuit so now I also have experience in developing and marketing my own food product! I am currently an Adjunct
    Asscoiate Professor in Dietetics at La Trobe University and run a busy private practice in Melbourne

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