TRANS FAT- the hidden poison

When we glance at the daily fat checklist, the most crucial fat to avoid is Transaturated fat. Many point the finger to saturated fat as the culprit to obesity; however, transaturated fat or hydrogenated oil has been the most lethal hidden poison among our food supply today.

According to Natural News, Transaturated fats are hidden in all sorts of foods, from crackers and baked goods to breakfast cereals.

Yes! Many cereals and biscuits contain transaturated fats. The main reason for this is because trans fats or hydrogenated oil in this case helps preserve products for longer. These products usually have a relatively short shelf life and go to waste if they are not eaten within a certain time period. The solution to this was hydrogenated oil.

The idea of transforming freshly baked goods into sweet, toxic morsels definitely makes one think about how much the food industry cares about our life expectancy.

In an article from the Natural Health Information Centre, Dr Mary Enig, author of ‘Know your fats’, proved that cancer rates were directly linked to the consumption of vegetable oils including hydrogenated fats and total fat consumption. However this was not related to animal fat consumption.

Little, if anything was done to examine the health effects of hydrogenated fats, which are entirely unknown in nature.

One of the consequences to trans fat consumption is Ischaemic heart disease (IHD), which was virtually unknown until the 1940s, when hydrogenated fats were introduced.

Dr Mary Enig also admits the dangers of trans fats were recognised as long ago as 1958, but the vegetable oil industry continues to bad-mouth safer, natural animal fats. Sound familiar? Check Liferoutine’s previous article on ‘Coconut oil’

Since the campaigns against coconut oil and its reputation for elevating cholesterol, vegetable oil had become the common cooking ingredient for dishes in and East and West.

So we understand there is nothing good about transaturated fat, infact the recommended daily intake of saturated fat is…0, however, according to WebMD, the daily recommended intake of trans fats is 1% of your daily calories.

The big message from this article is Do Not Consume Transaturated Fats!

To understand this we need to know how transaturated fat or hydrogenated oil is made.

How is it made?

In short- Transaturated fat is made from hydrogenation- a chemical process where liquid vegetable oil (an otherwise healthy monounsaturated fat) is packed with hydrogen atoms and converted into a solid fat. This made what seemed an ideal fat for the food industry to work with because of its high melting point, its creamy, smooth texture and its reusability in deep-fat frying. In this way, natural vegetable oils are turned into unnatural fats.

This is the main reason vegetable extracted cooking oils are a very bad idea for deep frying. Opt for butter or coconut oil for cooking because these natural substances high in saturated fats can withstand high temperatures without a chemical imbalance within the fat.

Now for the longer answer from the Natural Health Information Centre.

Hydrogenation is the chemical name for the addition of hydrogen to an existing molecule, usually an organic molecule which has a double-bond between two carbon atoms. That bond is broken and a hydrogen atom binds to each of the free bonds on adjacent carbon atoms.

H2C=CH2 becomes H3C-CH3

This is achieved by forcing hydrogen, at high temperature (250-400C) and pressure into the liquid oil, usually in the presence of a catalyst such as nickel or platinum, over several hours. Unfortunately, the process can’t control where the hydrogen atoms are added to the molecule, resulting in a mixture of totally unnatural fats, many of which are trans fatty acids. Fatty acids are the “building blocks” of fats, in much the same way as amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.  The resulting fats are totally unnatural hydrogenated fats.

The consequences of creating hydrogenated fats are:

  1. 1.            The melting point of the oil is raised, turning many previously liquid oils into solids.
  2. 2.            Shelf-life is increased, as the resulting oil is less susceptible to degrading over time (maybe bacteria have a difficult time eating it too!).
  3. 3.            All nutritional value in the original oil is lost.
  4. 4.            The texture of the resultant solid can be made to resemble that of natural, animal fats.
  5. 5.            The previously perfectly natural oil becomes a totally unnatural, dangerous, relatively undigestable “plastic”.
  6. 6.            Tissues made with the “false” fat cannot function properly, as thousands of enzymes can’t bind to them, giving rise to a host of disease states.

 

 

In an attempt to help alleviate consequences on trans fats, Australasian governments established the Australia New Zealand Collaboration on Trans Fats in 2007. Furthermore, according to Natural News, there are Intentionally deceptive FDA-approved labeling laws, food products that contain sizable amounts of trans fatty acids can still declare “trans fats free” right on their labels (this clever trick involves reducing serving sizes until the trans fat level drops to 0.5 grams per serving, at which point the FDA says companies can just “round down” to zero).

So just because products do not have hydrogenated oil and trans fat on the nutrition label, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is no trans fat in the product.

The only way to avoid trans fat is by ‘smart eating’. Avoid deep fried foods, fast food, packaged biscuits, margarine, certain chocolates and microwave popcorn. The list could go on……mass food production has made it hard for us to monitor what is in our food.

Final Advice

If this article makes you very cautious about hydrogenated oil and you have no idea where to start eliminating trans fatty foods from your diet, the first step could be avoiding deep fried foods, especially from vegetable extracted oils.

In a nutshell, Hydrogenated fats are literally “plastics”, which do not have the same properties as natural fats.

Opt for grandmas’s freshly baked cookies over packaged supermarket bikkies.

 

If anyone could name any other foods which contain Transaturated fat, please feel free to comment and name the items to help us become more aware of what’s in our food.

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7 responses

  1. I think there are more and more preservatives in food which is bound to be bad for the human body. Perhaps if there is so much evidence suggesting that trans fat are bad for people’s health, Australia should look to New York for inspiration. In 2007, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg essentially banned the use of trans fat by restaurants. It appears to have had an impact and CNN reported the fat content in a large number of meals have dropped, here is the article http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/16/health/nyc-fat-ban-paying-off/index.html

  2. Thanks for that Rohanna. The use of trans fat in resturants is a big issue because many would assume any restaurant that isn’t Mcdonald’s wont offer the same trans fat content. Besides you can’t really ask the waiter or service provider whether or not there are trans fats evident in your food??? Maybe it should be compulsory for workers to know whether there is trans fat in their foods.

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