A reader at the healthy milk options post had a great question in the comments recently about oxidized cholesterol:
My husband and I are really, really trying to work out this milk issue. He is NOT ready to go to raw milk. We are currently drinking pasteurized skim. After spending several hours reading your posts and making a small dent in some of my own research, I spent an hour discussing it all with my husband. I explained that we should not drink skim, 1%, or 2% due to the oxidized cholesterol. I also explained that pasteurizing was “killing” the milk, so that we should remain open to changing to raw milk in the future. My husband suggested that if all the good things were being killed in any pasteurized milk, that drinking whole wasn’t going to be any better for us either. This is somewhat backed up by what I read today here http://www.full-health.com/partoneFprint.html that stated that one of the main sources in the American diet for oxidized cholesterol is pasteurized, heated milk protein.
So now I’m confused. Doesn’t this mean that ALL pasteurized milks contain oxidized cholesterol and the only difference is that whole milk has its oxidized cholesterol from beginning to end and the lower fat milks have their oxidized cholesterol back in?
And, if that’s the case isn’t the real decision whether to drink raw milk or NO milk? My husband said “if everything in it is dead and you can’t absorb the calcium without the vitamin D being alive, and the artificial vitamin D doesn’t let you absorb the calcium properly either is there ANY reason to drink milk?”
He stumped me. I have a PhD, I’ve read for hours and I’m even more confused. I thought maybe you could help me out.
Great question, and although I don’t know if I’d say everything beneficial is killed with pasteurization, you’ve got me in ‘sleuth mode’ on the oxidized cholesterol. I’ll post on this as soon as I get some answers.
I emailed Sally Fallon:
Hi Sally, I have a question for you about oxidized cholesterol. I know from the WAPF site that one of the many reasons low-fat milk is so unhealthy is due to the fact that powdered milk is added, which contains oxidized cholesterol (which can cause heart disease, not saturated fats as we’ve been led to believe). But I’ve also heard we shouldn’t cook our egg yolks, or they will oxidize as well – is this true? Also, I know raw milk is best, and it’s what my family drinks, however I’ve been suggesting to my readers that if they don’t drink raw milk, to at least drink whole milk. But if heating/pasteurizing the milk oxidizes the cholesterol, should I then be suggesting they drink raw milk or NO milk?
The confusion comes about by what causes cholesterol in food to oxidize–it is not pasteurization or cooking (scrambled eggs are fine), but the spray drying of milk or egg yolks when they are forced through a very tiny hole at high temperature and pressure to make powdered milk and eggs. Powdered milk is added to 1% and 2% milk to give it body.
Regarding milk, the more I learn about pasteurization, the more I realize how harmful it is (for other reasons than the oxidation of cholesterol). And now most milk is ultra-pasteurized, especially most organic milk.
I think if people can’t get raw milk, the next best thing is pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) cream diluted with water. The fats are much less prone to damage by pasteurization than the water portion of the milk, and at least the fats in cream have not been homogenized. This is what I did for my family when we could not get raw milk. We used diluted cream on porridge and in cooking.
Hope this helps! Sally
Sally, That’s perfect – just the sort of detailed answer I need for my readers. I’ll post that soon if it’s OK with you. Thanks for always being there for people like myself! I tell everyone that you’re a “rock star” in my world. Kelly
Yes, of course it is fine to post. Good to clear up the confusion. Would rather be an opera star. Thanks, Sally
I found one more interesting blurb on one of my favorite sites: Protein Power/Dr. Eades:
Unsaturated fats shouldn’t be used for cooking. Unless, of course, your goal is to eat oxidized fats.
Saturated fats have no double bonds. They are immune to free radical attack. They are immune to heat damage. You can cook with them, you can hit them with a hammer, you can throw them on the floor and jump up and down on them. And they stay the same. Saturated fats are stable fats.
So Dr. Eades comments go along with Sally’s statement: “The fats are much less prone to damage by pasteurization than the water portion of the milk.” It also confirms Zeke’s reassurances in the comments at my last post on rendering fat when I fretted over the possible oxidation of my tallow that was covered too loosely on the counter.
Another question comes to mind as I try to make sense of all this…
Based on Dr. Eades statement that saturated fats are immune to heat damage, why then do saturated fats still have “smoking points”: This is the temperature at which you risk the formation of free-radicals/cell damage, which can cause cancer. You should never re-use cooking oil for the same reason. I’d forgotten about this, and re-use my tallow all the time. I also probably get it too hot sometimes, which had me worried about free-radicals, but if saturated fats are immune to heat damage, maybe I don’t need to worry about that. I just checked, though, and the issue must be related to how much saturated fat is in tallow (or whatever fat you’re cooking with) in proportion to the other components. I need you, my super smart readers, to help me figure all this out!
If you have any more insight on the issue of oxidized cholesterol, please jump into the comment section below so we can learn even more – Googling didn’t get me very far. (I’ve got a lot more for you to read on this topic, though: why saturated fats aren’t the devil they’ve been made out to be.)
The photo above was taken the weekend of the Deidre Currie Festival last fall. Somebody pinch me! Of course I had a wicked bad hair day…
- Here’s a link to more info on oxidized cholesterol in dairy powders.