15 March, 2009
HIGH FAT DIET
Al Sears, MD
If you think a low fat diet is the way to go, I would like you
to consider this…
The Native American Indians had amazingly good health without any
signs of modern day illnesses like heart disease. Their secret?
A high fat diet.
They knew how to get the most out of their food. Nothing went to
waste. They used every part of the animal including the muscle meat,
tongue, organs, blood, intestines, fat, and even the bones.
What made the bones so special was what is hidden inside –
a highly valued creamy substance full of flavor and full of fat.
I am talking about the marrow. It was a staple in their diet. It
provided a good source of fat. They also considered the marrow highly
nutritious. An important part of nutrition of their children included
various preparations of it.1
Fat was so important to their diets that they often selectively
hunted for animals that had more fat. And when the hunting was good
they killed animals just for their tongues, fat, and marrow, and
threw the rest away. They usually ate the marrow raw and knew exactly
how to break the femur bone so it would split open just right and
expose the hidden treasure inside that they valued so much.2
Even though their diet was high in fat, they had remarkable good
health without any signs of modern day diseases like diabetes, arthritis,
and heart disease. In fact, early explorers described them as tall,
well built and muscular.3 They had the stamina, speed, and strength
for the hunt. In fact, one early explorer wrote that the men could
run after a deer for an entire day without resting and without any
The meat, organs, fat and bone marrow from the animals they ate
(buffalo, deer, caribou, antelope, fish, etc.) provided them with
protein and much of their fat-soluble vitamins and minerals and
essential fatty acids.
In a Colorado State University and Perdue University study of fatty
acids of ruminant animals (grazing animals such as deer, antelope,
buffalo, caribou, elk, etc.) similar to that consumed by native
Americans, the bone marrow was found to be a high source of monounsaturated
fat.5 It also contained saturated and polyunsaturated fats, but
in smaller amounts.
Monounsaturated fat is the good fat. And since Native Americans
got plenty of it in their diet it can explain their good health.
Because studies show that monounsaturated fats:6
Help prevent heart disease and stroke
Lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol)
Help improve insulin sensitivity
Promote healthy skin and cell development
Protect against certain cancers, such as breast cancer
So if you want the health of the Native Americans in today’s
modern world, skip the low fat diet and make sure you get enough
of the good fats. Good sources of monounsaturated fats are:
And of course a good source is from bone marrow. Now I am not
suggesting you go and hunt down a buffalo, but you can get nutritious
benefits of bone marrow from grass fed cattle. Actually, the same
study of fatty acids that I mentioned earlier found that grass fed
cattle had similar fat composition to North American ruminants.7
I know the natives typically ate bone marrow raw, but you’ll
probably enjoy it much more if it is cooked. And you’ll be
surprised at how tasty it really is. Give it a try.
You can also find bone marrow served in fine restaurants where chefs
consider it a delicacy. For example, the marrow is often the best
part of the Italian dish “Osso Bucco”. But if you would
rather not spend the time searching for it in restaurants, you can
easily prepare it at home. I buy it from Grassland Beef and prepare
it myself. Here are some easy ways to prepare it.
Place bones in a baking pan, cut side up. Bake at 400 degrees F
for about 20 minutes. Or you can place them in a pan with water
or broth and simmer for about 30 minutes.
You can use the marrow as a tasty garnish on meat or for extra flavor
in stews and soups.
You can also spread it on bread or toast and top with salt and pepper.
Or you can top it with onions, capers, black pepper, or some fresh
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears MD