Trans Fats Are Being Substituted,
But Is The Substitute Any Better?
It was inevitable that food manufacturers and
the edible oil industry would find a substitute for trans fats,
now that consumer backlash is forcing the issue.
After all, were talking big business here. Over 90 percent
of the money spent on food is spent on the processed stuff.
Now that the health dangers of trans fats have been clearly
exposed, the food industry would do you a great favor by returning
to the use of natural saturated fats for frying and in baked
goods. But that would mean reversing their entirely unscientific,
50 year campaign to vilify saturated fats, and would bring an
end to the enormously powerful edible oil industry.
Since thats not about to happen, its time for a
quick review of the bad news about trans fats, followed by an
investigation into what seems to be a fast-growing substitute:
Why Trans Fats are Being Replaced in Processed Foods
Trans fats cause a host of health problems. Among the most
serious, trans fats:
* raise your LDL cholesterol levels and lower HDL ("good")
* are believed to contribute to auto-immune disease, cancer,
heart disease, fertility problems, and bone degeneration
* inhibit insulin receptors in your cell membranes and are the
main cause of type 2 diabetes, characterized by high levels
of insulin and glucose in your blood
The Trans Fat Replacement -- Interesterified Fat
Interesterified fats have been an ingredient in foods in the
U.S. since the 1950s. They were introduced in Europe even earlier
-- in the 1920s -- and have been in widespread use there for
the last 15 years as a substitute for partially hydrogenated
oils (trans fats).
These fats are oils that have been chemically altered. They
are hydrogenated and then rearranged on a molecular level.
Although technically not the same as partially hydrogenated
oils, the unnatural manipulation of lipid molecules in interesterified
fats raises similar health concerns to those caused by trans
The Process of Interesterification
The interesterification process hardens fat, similar to the
hydrogenation process, but without producing oils that contain
trans fats. The end product, like trans fat, is less likely
to go rancid and is stable enough to use to fry foods.
There are three ways to modify natural fat:
2. Hydrogenation (the process used in trans fat production)
Interesterification acts on compounds in oil known as esters.
The process combines a natural vegetable oil with stearic acid
and alkylinic catalysts. Either enzymes or chemicals are used
to modify the molecular structure of the oil in order to make
it perform like a fat. The end result is a fat rich in stearic
Interesterification is similar to the process that creates
trans fats. Like hydrogenation, which generates unnatural trans
fats, interesterification also produces molecules that do not
exist in nature.
The highly industrialized process of interesterification may
result in a product that is trans-free, but that product will
still contain chemical residues, hexanes, and other hazardous
waste products full of free radicals that cause cell damage.
The Use of Interesterified Fat is Already Raising Health
Studies show that interesterified fat raises your blood glucose
and depresses insulin production. These conditions are common
precursors to diabetes, and can present an even more immediate
danger if you already have the disease.
After only four weeks consuming these fats, study volunteers
blood glucose levels rose sharply -- by 20 percent. This is
a much worse result than is seen with trans fats.
Insulin levels dropped 10 percent on the trans fat diet used
in the studies, and twice that on the interesterified fat diet.
Study results conclude interesterified fat affects the production
of insulin by your pancreas, as opposed to the insulin receptors
in your cell membranes.
Interesterified fat also reduces levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.
The Problem with All Processed Vegetable Oils
Natural vegetable oils that have been altered create problems
for your body at the cellular level. These fats are no longer
in their natural state, and your body doesnt know how
to handle them. Your system will try to make use of them and
in the process, these fats end up in cell membranes and other
locations where they can wreak havoc with your health.
If you are male, the danger of these man-made fats is an increased
risk of heart disease. In men, these unnatural oils trigger
an immune response as they enter your artery walls. As your
body attacks this unknown intruder, your arteries become inflamed,
leading to a dangerous build-up of plaque.
If you are a woman, your body will react somewhat differently.
Processed vegetable oils dont appear to trigger an immune
response in the arteries of women. Rather, they get deeper into
your body and into fatty tissues like those of the breast, increasing
your cancer risk.
Finally, a problem with processed vegetable oils no matter
your gender is the accumulation of the toxic byproducts of the
catalysts used to change the oils from their natural state.
These catalysts are created from metals like aluminum and nickel.
They build up in your nervous system, are difficult to eliminate,
and can lead to neurological problems and other health concerns.
How to Recognize Interesterified Fats in Your Food
Youll find interesterified fats in the same types of
processed foods that use trans fats. Products such as:
* margarine and shortening
* fried foods like French fries and fried chicken
* processed foods like cereal and waffles
* salad dressings
Interesterified Fat Will Likely NOT Be on List of Ingredients
If youre in the habit of reading product labels, you
may or may not see the word interesterified fat
among the list of ingredients, even if its in there.
The FDA has ruled that food manufacturers can use terms like
high stearate or stearic rich fats in place of interesterified.
To confuse things even further, if you see the terms fully hydrogenated
vegetable oil, palm oil and/or palm kernel oil on labeling,
the product may or may not contain interesterified fat.
And beware eating out, because while restaurants and their
suppliers are touting removal of trans fats from the foods they
serve, very little is being said about the fats that are replacing
The bottom line is that if a processed food label includes
vegetable oil as an ingredient, you can be absolutely
sure youre about to consume either interesterified fats,
or trans fats.
And if a processed food product is labeled 0% trans fats
or no trans fats but is made from vegetable oils,
you can be certain it contains either interesterified fats or
fully hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Foods that have been altered by an industrial process do not
metabolize in your body the same way natural foods do, and eating
them is an invitation to serious health problems.
It took the mainstream medical community and food manufacturers
30 years to determine and admit that trans fats are dangerous
to your health. It could take another 30 years for the truth
to come out about interesterified fats -- or any other substitute
fat that does not exist in nature.
Options to Consider
Fortunately avoiding these fats is relatively easy as they
are virtually all the foods that trans fats are, so by avoiding
trans fat you will also avoid interesterified fats.
If youre like most Americans, your diet consists predominantly
of processed food. And eating processed foods, especially those
with a long shelf life, means youre consuming interesterified
fats, trans fats, or some other type of man-made ingredient
that your body was not designed to metabolize.
* If you want to avoid dangerous fats of all kinds, your best
bet is to eliminate processed foods from your diet.
* Use butter instead of margarines and vegetable oil spreads.
Butter is a healthy whole food that has received an unwarranted
* Use coconut oil for cooking. It is far superior to any other
cooking oil and is loaded with health benefits.
* Following my nutrition plan will automatically reduce your
modified fat intake, as it will teach you to focus on healthy
whole foods instead of processed junk food.