Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why I Avoid Hydrogenated Oil and Trans Fats

How about a quick blog on trans fats and hydrogenated oils? You'll love it, trust me.

First, what is hydrogenated oil?

When fat or oil is subjected to hydrogenation, the molecular structure of the fat is actually changed. The changed molecules cause the oil to harden, which makes it easier to handle and increases its shelf life. It also has a high melting temperature and an appealing creamy texture. For these reasons, food manufacturers like working with the hydrogenated oils. (link)

And how about Trans Fat?
Trans fat is monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat which is altered by partial hydrogenation. This process of partial hydrogenation forces the oils which are naturally liquid at room temperature to become solid, therefore modifying the fat so it is more similar to saturated fat. (link)

Now how about a little blurb on what our bodies do with these hydrogenated oils?
Since hydrogenated oils don’t occur in nature, our bodies don’t know how to deal with them effectively. They act as poisons to crucial cellular reactions and they wind up in cell membranes and other places they shouldn’t be. (link)
There is also evidence to suggest that trans fatty acids may bioaccumulate in the body, because the digestive system has difficulty figuring out what to do with them. As a result, a diet high in trans fats will result in weight gain.
Consumption of hydrogenated oil has been linked with diabetes, coronary disease, and obesity in a wide number of scientific studies. (link)
In short, trans fats are poisons, just like arsenic or cyanide. They interfere with the metabolic processes of life by taking the place of a natural substance that performs a critical function. And that is the definition of a poison. Your body has no defense against them, because they never even existed in our two billion years of evolution -- so we've never had the need or the opportunity to evolve a defense against them. (link)

So, obviously these oils are not natural for us. Some places have even gone as far as banning them! In Denmark it's illegal for foods to contain more than 2% trans fat. Compare that to the 30% some margarines contain in the U.S.. It's almost been one year since New York City has banned all trans fats in restaurants. Washington State is considering a state wide ban. Calgary and Toronto are pushing for bans and there is a push for Canada to consider a ban similar to Denmark.

How about this quote?
"Consuming partially hydrogenated oils is like inhaling cigarette smoke. They will kill you -- slowly, over time, but as surely as you breathe. And in the meantime, they will make you fat!" (link)
So what foods have trans fats or hydrogenated oils? Any of the pictures in this post are there because they are of foods you should avoid. Do some research. Edumacate yourself, decide what you should do then do it!



Krista 11/15/2007 12:53 PM  

Great post Glenn! Edumacation is essential here...I found hydrogenated soybean oil in this popular pasta sauce brand:

They'll put it in anything, and everything. Always read the label.

Carla 11/16/2007 3:21 PM  

We cut out trans fat from our grocery shopping over a year ago (maybe two?) and we certainly don't miss it. There is always an option without it, and if there isn't, it's probably a food you shouldn't be eating anyway!

On the flip side, sometimes food is labeled as "0 Trans Fat" on the front, but that may not be the case. That's because as long as it has less than a certain amount of trans fat, it classifies as 0 grams per serving. (Less .5 grams in the US, less than .2 grams in Canada)

So the key is checking for the words "partially hydrogenated" or "shortening" in the ingredient list and avoiding those foods that contain either of those.

For fun, if your stomach can handle it, check out this Mystery Meat project:

Jeremy & Erin 11/28/2007 11:59 PM  

Ok so what is a good solution then!? What should we use instead of butter and all that. Any good suggestions? Thanks for the education!

Carla 11/29/2007 12:24 AM  

We use "Smart Balace" instead of butter or margarine. There is also a "Light" version of it. It tastes good on bread and also works great for cooking and most baking.

For peanut butter (before we had an allergic baby) we used Laura Scudder's or Adam's peanut butter, the kind you have to stir and refrigerate. Yum! :)

glennlavender 11/29/2007 7:48 AM  

Wait a sec. I don't think I ever said butter is bad. Its margarine that you want to stay away from. Hmm, maybe a post on the benefits of butter should be next.


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