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TRANS-PALMITOLEIC ACID                            cows-in-the-alps.jpg



by Patrick Moore, N.D., M.S.

October, 2012

Trans-palmitoleic acid. I know, that’s a mighty big word to pronounce. But the size of this word may reduce the size of your body and promote numerous health enhancements. Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health have identified a natural substance in dairy fat that substantially reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by 62%. Trans-palmitoleic acid, a rare fatty acid, is found almost exclusively in milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and meat trans fat. And health-promoting levels of this natural fatty acid are found primarily in full-fat dairy. Refining and denaturing dairy to remove the fat ends up removing this   natural nutrient which research suggests conveys numerous health benefits.. Besides a dramatic reduction in the risk of Diabetes, researchers have found that people with the highest levels of this compound experienced healthier blood cholesterol levels (HDL increases), less insulin resistance, improved insulin sensitivity, lower inflammatory chemicals in their blood (C-reactive protein), lower triglycerides, and slightly lower adiposity (body fat). The study’s lead researcher, Gokhan Hotamisligi, in commenting on the magnitude of the Diabetes risk reduction, stated, “This is an extremely strong protective effect, stronger than other things we know can be beneficial against diabetes.”

This study confirms all of my naturopathic beliefs that there is an inherent intelligence in nature and that natural foods that have been part of our ancestral past and have  kept us well for thousands of years should not be tampered with. By devitalizing and denaturing our dairy into skim, no-fat, and low-fat products, by removing fat from milk, we have stripped away vital nutrients that help optimize our body’s innate ability to burn fat, maintain energy, absorb fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin A. D, E, and K,  and guard against disease. And I don’t recall God telling Moses to take his people to the land of “skim milk and processed, refined honey.” I’m sure the Israelites would have rejected that land upon their first sip of insipid skim milk. Even Mohammed, in the Koran, preached the health benefits of dairy, especially butter. Natural dairy was a staple of our ancestors yet  Diabetes and Obesity were not their common companions.

A number of past studies have further demonstrated the benefits of full-fat dairy consumption. A Swedish study found that women who ate at least two daily servings of full-fat milk, sour cream, or cheese were better able to avert age-related weight gain than women who avoided full-fat dairy. Full-fat eaters reportedly gained 30% less weight over a nine-year period. They found that milk fat also contains another unique fatty acid called Conjugated Linoleic Acid. This nutrient helps block fat from entering body cells, helping calories from fat to be burned instead of stored.

Another crucial aspect of fat is that it dramatically helps to stabilize blood sugar.  Fat slows the rate at which a sugar enters the bloodstream.  Fat does not stimulate insulin release. Hence, it’s difficult to store fat without the presence of insulin because insulin is required to open up cellular doors to store fat in fat cells.  Ergo, fat helps to protect against harmful spikes in cortisol and insulin. Chronic spiking of insulin activates all of the biochemical processes that promote the clogging of arteries, hypertension, and creates cells that become insulin resistant,  eventually leading to Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease.


Another point to discuss is the fact that full-fat milk has  “saturated fat.”  I say good!  This myth about saturated fat being bad for you is just that. A misguided myth. A scientific meta-analysis of 21 earlier studies involving 348,000 participants followed for 5-23 years found NO difference in the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or coronary vascular disease comparing people with the highest and lowest intake of saturated fat. Further, the director of the famed Framington Heart Study also stated he found no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease. And Dr. Walter Willet, Professor of Nutrition and Director of the School of Public Health at Harvard, has commented that consumers have been led to believe that all fats are bad and that foods loaded with white flour and sugar were healthier choices. “This has clearly contributed to the epidemic of diabetes we are experiencing and premature deaths for many,” he has stated. “It’s time to end this low-fat myth.”   When I lived in Paris for fivegty_cheese_platter_kb_120627_wb.jpg months, I observed a French cuisine that used butter and full-fat dairy liberally. All saturated fats. For the most part, the only overweight people I saw in Paris seemed to be American tourists. The Parisians were slim, obesity rarely seen, and their rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are significantly less than what we experience. Further, in the South Pacific island of American Samoa, where I was born, the pre-western diet of Polynesian cultures was heavily based on the most saturated food on earth, coconuts.  Up to 50-60% of their calorie consumption consisted of this fat content. Dr. Weston Price, who traveled through the South Pacific in the 1930’s, wrote and documented how the people were  remarkably free of disease.  In fact, unbeknownst to dieticians and hospital health professionals, the key fatty acid in coconut, medium chain triglycerides (MCT OIL), is a “standard of care” staple in every hospital and care center in America.7764717.jpg

You’ll find it in all canned nutritionals such as Jevity and Pulmocare. They are  given to preemies and patients being tube-fed. The small molecular size of this super saturated fat absorbs gently and therapeutically in the bloodstream, avoiding patient digestive distress while energizing the cells of the body. One further point on this issue of saturated fat  contained in full-fat dairy. My default position on what nutritional advice to follow will always lean heavily on ancestral wisdom. And nature. Not on some modern day drug company - based study. So I ask this question to all skeptics who have been  taught to believe in the dogma that saturated fat is bad for you. Why would Mother Nature deem it wise to compose breast milk primarily of saturated fat? Nature has had hundreds of thousands of years to work on perfecting optimal nutrition to the newborn. How then, could saturated fat, per se, not be good?

Two final insights on full-fat dairy. Whole milk’s butterfat contains two other therapeutic compounds, Butyric Acid and Sphingomylin. These nutrients, with two helpings of full-fat dairy a day, contributed in one study to reducing a women’s risk of colon cancer by 13% by inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells. And an insightful study by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health found that for 20% of women experiencing difficulty getting pregnant, the underlying problem is anovulatory infertility – infertility caused by the failure to ovulate. Harvard tracked over 18,000 women and discovered that those who consumed one or more daily servings of full-fat dairy foods slashed their risk of this infertility by 38%!

Dairy is not for everyone. Lactose intolerance or difficulty digesting Casein, the protein in milk, makes it problematic for a certain percent of people. Most people do well digesting fermented dairy such as yogurt, kefir, some cheese and yes, chocolate milk. The cocoa makes it easier to digest, just look for a low sugar brand. “Calorie Countdown” by Hood is a good example.  Make sure the cheese is high quality and consumed in moderation. In my household, a switch to full-fat (hormone-free) dairy has gone smoothly. None of my family members – kids included – have gained an ounce of weight consuming full-fat. The milk fat tastes better, promotes satiety, suppresses appetite while promoting stable blood sugar, and our body composition has improved. I would suggest you start gently with any switch to full-fat dairy and observe how it affects your individual metabolism.  Give it a try! Don’t let your mind be cemented to the misguided dietary advice so prevalent in America over the last 40 years. Advice where FAT has been demonized resulting in a low-fat high carb craze that has contributed to  an obesity/diabetic epidemic that is spiraling out of control.

Finally, know that there are good fats and bad fats. Bad fats are processed and fake fats. Any unnatural trans-fat or fat that has been hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated is unhealthful. Avoid foods that are labeled hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. Food manufacturers pump hydrogen into foods to extend shelf life. This transformed fat has been shown to clog arteries and will end up shortening your shelf life. Peanut Butter is a good example. Buy natural only. Margarine is another. It’s one molecule away from being plastic. Many processed deli meats are also not optimal for your health.

Please share your thoughts and experiences as you embark on a full-fat dairy journey,  a journey our ancestors were ALWAYS in tune with.  Bon voyage! nhung-tac-nhan-giau-mat-gay-mun-o-nam-gioi-0.pngTo share this article with a friend, please use any of the social media buttons below.

1 Comment
Added by Jay W
October 18th, 2012


While reading your article I had memories of a community nutrition project that I completed for my undergraduate Nutrition and Dietetics degree. We had to create a diet for a family of four, receiving food stamps. I suggested that the family purchase full fat milk vs. skim milk. The diet I created was very high in CHO (given their limited food budget of $125 per week), low in fat, and I figured the extra fat calories would provide greater satiety (among other things). My professor suggested that I opt for the non fat option, as dairy is the greatest source of saturated fat in the USA diet (Despite the best attempts of "health" agencies/professionals to encourage Americans to make the healthier switch to low-fat dairy).

It was very interesting learning about the various beneficial fatty acids found in dairy and certain types of meats. A couple of thoughts/comments for you:

1. Do you know what types of meats contain this fatty acid? My suspicion would be some of the organ meats, but I am not sure.

2. Do certain types of dairy products contain more of these fatty acids? Does the pasteurization/homogenization process damage them to a degree?

3. Are these fatty acids only associated with certain types (or type) of saturated fatty acids? I have read that there are many different types of saturated fats, each of which can have a different effect on the human body.

4. In the article you mentioned that lactose intolerance/casein digestion issues, makes dairy problematic for a small percent of people. I always thought that these issues affected a greater percent of the world's population.

I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future,

Jay W
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