Companies Swapping Trans Fats for a Different, but Also Dangerous, Fat

Research indicates that a new method of modifying fat in commercial products, interesterified fat, which is intended to replace trans fats, raises blood glucose and depresses insulin.

What's more, just like trans fat, it reduces levels of beneficial HDL-cholesterol.


Trans-fatty acids, used because of their long shelf life, are now being abandoned by many manufacturers because they raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels and lower HDL ("good") cholesterol levels.

Interesterified fat is a modified form of fat that is hydrogenated and then rearranged on the molecular level. Interesterification creates fat rich in stearic acid, and it is quickly becoming the method of choice for foods that require a longer shelf life. The process hardens fat in much the same way as the process that creates trans-fatty acids.

This research could mean that the structure of each individual fat molecule is important to health; the specific location of individual fatty acids on the glycerol molecule seems to affect the metabolism of both fat and glucose.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

When it comes to the increasing public awareness about the dangers of trans fats, there's good news and there's bad news. The good news: more and more cities are considering bans on toxic trans fats, and increasing numbers of food companies are taking these health-harming fats out of their products.

The bad news?

Some of these companies may be trading one disaster for another. Believe me you don't want to knowingly put this trans-fat substitute into your body. You can be virtually assured that the experts are clueless as to exactly what the long-term side effects will be.

It took over 100 years to finally understand and get trans fat eliminated. How long do you think it will be before they find problems with this new replacement?

One finding of the study linked above, unmodified saturated fat, which has unfairly gotten a bad rap all along, was not associated with the negative effects of trans fats and interesterified fats.

If you want to avoid dangerous fats of all kinds, your best option is still to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Over 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods, so if you are like a typical American you have a LONG way to go to improve.

Ideally, you should strive to avoid processed foods, even those with no trans fats, and opt for healthy fat sources from whole foods, according to your nutritional type.

Your body needs some saturated fats to stay healthy. Among their many beneficial effects, they are:

  • A major part of the phospholipid component of cell membranes
  • The preferred fuel for your heart
  • Useful antiviral agents (caprylic acid)
  • Effective as anticaries, antiplaque and anti-fungal agents (lauric acid)
  • Useful to actually lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)

Coconut oil, a medium-chain saturated fat, can actually help you to lose weight, lower cholesterol, improve diabetic conditions and reduce your risk of heart disease.

The trick is to get your saturated fats from healthy food sources that aren't highly processed or contaminated with trans fats. Of course, that's something you probably won't find at your neighborhood fast food restaurant. For most of us, that means spending some serious time in the kitchen preparing healthier foods, but it can be done -- and on a budget too.

On Vital Votes, Tom from Grandview, Ohio reports:

"Just this morning (01/20/2007) there were two AP articles in the Columbus Dispatch newspaper about trans fat substitutes.

"The first article touted a school cafeteria in Plum Burrough district in suburban Pittsburgh that switched to this very same trans-fat replacement toxin, which is called Z Trim (interesterified fat). They just did it without any parental notification or input. The article was written as though the school administration had done something wonderful for it's students.

"'This is a true plant fiber. It's something people have been eating. If anyone's had popcorn, they've had Z Trim,' said Rick Harris, vice-president for sales and marketing for Fiber-Gel Technologies of Mundelein, Ill.  Z Trim is made from the hulls of corn, oats, soy, rice and barley.  (Now doesn't that sound wholesome?)

"The second article was on the business page. It sang the praises of one Mark Israel, owner of a Seattle company called the Doughnut Plant. They supply coffee shops such as the so-called 'all-organic' Mighty-O Donuts shop, and Starbucks among others.  As a trans fat substitute they use palm fruit oil, and market the product as: 'all-natural, organic, vegan doughnuts' ? I kid you not.

"It is one thing to make and sell junk foods, but it absolutely despicable to market  garbage as  healthy and nutritious food. It is becoming evermore dangerous to eat any food prepared outside of one's own kitchen."

Other responses to this article can be viewed at Vital Votes, and you can add your own thoughts or vote on comments by first registering at Vital Votes.



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