From a satisfied customer:

“I want to thank you for the speedy service your company provided to us. We were able to use the banners for our 6th annual Let’s Move Day. Many Thanks.”


Expo at the US Capitol

Expo at the US Capitol

A few weeks ago Hartland Institute obtained a special permit and do health expo screening at the US Capitol building parking lot.  Numerous Congressional staff assistants went through the screening and expressed appreciation for the service.



What’s with all of the Confusion about Fat in Food?

Does saturated fat increase your risk of heart disease or not?

Michael F. Jacobson • August 30, 2014

Confused Nutrition Action readers have been asking me how we could have gotten it so wrong on saturated fat. Why didn’t we see that the villain in the heart disease story isn’t saturated fat, but sugar? And how could the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have missed that too?
The chorus of those claiming our position is wrong includes:

• New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman (“Butter is Back,” ran his headline),
• journalist Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, and
• the author of TIME magazine’s June 23rd cover story (“Eat Butter. Scientists Labeled Fat the Enemy. Why they were wrong”).

The May and June issues of Nutrition Action explored this topic, but I want to highlight a few points that have contributed to the confusion.

The debate over which is worse, sugar and white flour or saturated fat, has been percolating for years. But the pot boiled over in March 2014, when an “exhaustive new analysis” (as The New York Times put it) was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The meta-analysis reported that people had the same risk of heart disease whether they ate a diet high in saturated fat (in meat, dairy, and tropical oils) or one high in polyunsaturated fats (in foods like soybean oil, mayo, salad dressing, and fish). Newspapers, magazines, and talk shows just couldn’t resist a man-bites-dog story line like that.

Since then—and you haven’t read about it in TIME or the Times—that study has been blasted by leading heart disease researchers.

In a letter published in the Annals, these researchers and CSPI’s Bonnie Liebman pointed out a crucial flaw in the meta-analysis, which combined the results of clinical trials that replaced saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat: it included a trial in which some of the saturated fat was replaced with high-trans margarine. Trans fat increases the risk of heart disease. (The authors buried the trans detail in a supplement to the article available only online.)

Removing that one trial from the meta-analysis reverses the results and shows that people who replaced saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats had a lower risk of heart disease. (Those trials and other controlled studies, not the 1950s Seven Countries Study that Teicholz dwells on in her book, are the evidence that experts rely on.)

Dog bites man. No story. Some contrarians also argue that America’s obesity epidemic was caused by those who advocated a low-fat diet. Food companies—and consumers—they maintain, replaced fat with sugar, which is what made us fat.

There’s just one problem: we didn’t replace fat with sugar. Most low-fat or fat-free foods on shelves contain no more sugar (or carbs) than their higher-fat counterparts. What’s more, over the past 40 years, we’ve been eating more fat, not less.

Looking for a culprit for the obesity epidemic? Blame it on the billions spent on ads for sodas and fast food, on the 1,000+-calorie restaurant meals, and on the 24/7 availability of cheeseburgers, fries, shakes, pizzas, burritos, fried chicken, movie theater popcorn, muffins, nachos, soda pop, etc.
It doesn’t take an exhaustive new analysis to see that.
Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, 1220 L ST NW Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20005

Does Soy Affect Thyroid Function?

Should you avoid soy to protect your thyroid?

The real story: “Eating soy foods doesn’t harm the thyroid glands of most people,” says Hossein Gharib, president of the American Thyroid Association and an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota.

Doctors gauge thyroid function by looking at blood levels of thyroid hormone (thyroxine, or T4) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which prods the gland to produce more T4 when needed.

In test tubes, soy isoflavones can interfere with the enzyme that helps the thyroid make T4. In most studies done so far in healthy people, however, soy foods or isoflavones have no impact on levels of T4 or TSH.

That was the case for 63 women who ate two to three servings a day of either soy foods (yogurt, burgers, and milk) or beef, chicken, and dairy for 10 weeks. And it was true for 206 middle-aged or older women who took 90 to 200 mg of soy isoflavones or a placebo every day for six months to two years.

But soy foods may make people with subclinical hypothyroidism more likely to become hypothyroid, says Gharib.

About 1 percent of the U.S. population has hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), which means they have low T4, high TSH, and symptoms like fatigue and increased sensitivity to cold. Another 3 to 5 percent have subclinical hypothyroidism. They have no symptoms and their T4 levels are normal, but their TSH is high (a sign that the body is working hard to keep T4 levels up).

In 2011, British researchers gave 60 middle-aged and older people with subclinical hypothyroidism a daily dose of 30 grams of soy protein. For eight weeks the powder contained 16 mg of soy isoflavones and for eight weeks it contained only 2 mg. Six of the 60—all women—progressed to hypothyroidism while taking the higher dose.

That’s just one small study that needs to be confirmed. In the meantime, “If a routine blood test shows that someone has an elevated TSH level of 5, 6, 7, or 8 and they want to continue eating a lot of soy, they should have their TSH levels tested every six to 12 months to make sure they aren’t progressing to full-blown hypothyroidism,” says Gharib.

Sources: J. Womens Health 20: 771, 2011; Arch. Intern. Med. 171: 1363, 2011; J. Med. Food 6: 309, 2003; Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 96: 1442, 2011.


Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit publisher of Nutrition Action Healthletter, 1220 L ST NW Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20005

Does Consuming Alcohol Boost Your Risk of Breast Cancer?

“Alcohol is related to both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer,” says Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health. “And the more you drink, the higher your risk.”

Drinking over more of your life also matters. “Women who started drinking earlier in life and then stopped, their risk goes down,” Willett explains. “The highest risk is in women who started consuming alcohol early and continued.”

And it’s not just women who overdo it.

“We now see a 17 percent increased risk with only one drink every other day,” notes Willett. “What’s remarkable is how modest that amount is. With colorectal cancer, you don’t see much increase in risk until you get to over two drinks a day.”

Alcohol’s ability to raise blood estrogen levels appears to explain at least part of the increased risk. “But we’re still not entirely sure whether it’s limited to the increase in estrogen or whether there’s more to it than that,” adds Willett.

Could teenage drinking pose a particularly potent threat?

“That’s been a worry from the beginning, because the breast is more sensitive then,” says Willett.

When he and others tracked nearly 6,900 teens aged 13 to 20 for five years, each daily serving of alcohol they consumed was linked to a 50 percent higher risk of benign breast disease. (Some types of benign breast disease are risk factors for cancer.)

Sources: JAMA 306: 1884, 2011; J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 93: 710, 2001; Pediatrics 125: e1081, 2010.

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