Why Animal Fats are Essential to Health by Chris Masterjohn PhD

Chris Masterjohn Primal Retreat

Here is an excellent talk given by Chris Masterjohn PhD at the 2012 Low Carb Cruise. Chris has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition from the University of Connecticut, and has published several peer review studies with a focus on Vitamin A.  Chris also blogs for the Western A Price Foundation.

This is part one, and it’s 9 minutes long. We have also written up the main points below if you cannot watch it now.

About Western A Price

Weston A Price was the first research director for the American Dental Association, and he held this position for 25 years. During this period he conducted animal experiments, clinical research & other laboratory experiments where he studied tooth decay and the role of tooth decay in human health.

Price also visited every continent (except Asia) studying native people, and their diets in relation to health & tooth decay.  He later went on to produce an epic work titled Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. In 1999 a charity was established to explore and promote the ideas put forward by Price. Westonaprice.org

Traditional Diets lead to Vibrant Health

In every case he documented, when groups still ate their traditional diets, regardless of their genetics of geography, whether they were hunter gathers, or they were pastorals relying on herding cattle, or they were agriculturalist, if they ate their traditional diets they had vibrant health.

Price recorded these cultures as having:

  • Excellent very broad and well defined facial bone structure with enough room for all of their teeth.
  • Immunity from tooth decay
  • Freedom from tuberculosis
  • Freedom from cancer
  • Freedom from heart disease
  • Freedom from other degenerative disease known in the West today

In those groups who had moved away from their traditional diets and ate modern foods suffered the opposite; higher rates of tooth decay, higher rates of tuberculosis, cancer, heart disease and other degenerative disease.

Do the healthy groups eat low fat or low carbohydrate? 

Surprisingly, there was a wide variation on the macro nutrient ratios among the different groups studied; some thrived on high fat, low carbohydrate, others, such as the Kitavans, thrived on low fat, higher carbohydrate. However, it was possible to group together commonalities within their traditional diets.

Traditional Foods Varied Widely, but had these in common

  • Large and small animals of the land and sea
  • Organs, bones, and skins of animals
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Whole Cereals
  • Tubers
  • Coconut
  • Fruits and vegetables

Modern Diets are all more or less the same

Modern diets are centered on what Price called the “displacing foods of modern commerce

  • White flour
  • White rice
  • White sugar
  • Syrups, jams, canned goods
  • Vegetable oils

Apart from vegetable oil, all the others are very rich in carbohydrate. Although, Price acknowledged that the modern diet led to absolute higher carbohydrate consumption, he actually focused his attention more on nutrient density. In particular, he gave higher significance to fat soluble vitamins which are difficult to obtain.

Emphasis on getting foods rich in fat soluble vitamins

Price discovered that those cultures that thrived put an emphasis on getting foods rich in fat soluble vitamins. Foods such as

  • Seafood
  • Organ meats and eggs
  • Dairy including butter fat
  • Small animals and insects

Not every one of theses food categories was consumed, but at least one was consumed by every thriving culture. Some cultures ate two or more of these food categories.

Animal fats are the best source of fat soluble vitamins including A, D, E, and K, best sources of Choline , and the best sources of essential fatty acids. Presence of animal fat in the diet increases the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. So even if your fat soluble vitamins are coming from other sources such as vegetables, the absorption is still increased by having animal fat in the meal.

Part 2 coming shortly….

A write up on Part 2 will be posted in the next week, or you can watch it now on Youtube, or read Chris’s blog posts (See below).

In Part 2, Chris discusses how in the face of such obvious findings on animal fats and health, that US and UK guidelines over the past several decades have demonised animal and saturated fat. He also discusses how the those cultures that thrived on traditional diet, ALL ate diets with fat ratios higher in saturated fats, and lower polyunsaturated fats. The opposite of what has been advised by the West for decades.

Useful Links

Chris Masterjohn’s Blog

Weston A Price Foundation