Hydrogenated Fats can be identified by the words: “hydrogenated”, “partially hydrogenated”, “trans fatty acid” or “trans fats”. They very rarely exist in nature and are the hardest fats to break down. If you are trying to lose weight, these fats take twice as long to breakdown as even a saturated fat! It takes 1 month to break down half of the normal fats consumed. It takes 3 months to metabolize half of the trans fats consumed. Trans fat is used to enhance flavor and extend shelf life and is created artificially by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil in a process called hydrogenation.
Trans fats are detrimental to one’s health because they raise the level of LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol, in the blood. Trans fats lower the level of HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, in the blood. This has a double negative effect on cholesterol because it lowers the ratio of Total Cholesterol to HDL cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. Trans fat has also been found to cause an increased risk of certain cancers and digestive problems. One study found that women who eat higher levels of trans fats are almost 4 times more likely to have breast cancer. For these reasons, they are believed to be more detrimental to one’s health than saturated fats. – Cancer Epi. Bio. Prev. 6:705, 1997.
The FDA has made it mandatory for all companies to include the amount of trans fat in their product on the nutrition label. While this may assist people in making wiser food choices, it can also be misleading. Under FDA regulations, “if the serving contains less than 0.5 gram [of trans fat], the content, when declared, shall be expressed as zero.” In other words, the FDA allows the companies to declare the product “Zero grams of trans fat” even though it still contains trans fat! Be a wise shopper. Any amount of trans fat is not good.
– Shockman, Luke, Trans Fat: ‘Zero’ foods add up, ToledoBlade, December 5, 2005.
– Federal Register, Vol. 68, No. 133, July 11, 2003 at page 41466.
“If New Yorkers replace all sources of artificial trans fat, by even the most conservative estimates, at least 500 deaths from heart disease would be prevented each year in New York City,”
– Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health
Fast food restaurants aren’t the only places to be cautious of. Many other restaurants, including “quality” restaurants, fry their food in partially hydrogenated oil and served baked goods containing partially hydrogenated oil. Some serve larger portions than McDonald’s with even more trans fats. They are also in almost every processed food in the supermarket from soups to chips, crackers to cookies, pastries to mixes of all kinds, including some pasta and rice mixes, and frozen foods like pizza and pot pies and even some cereals.
Not all fats are bad. So what are some good fats?
Eat More: Omega3 [polyunsatures] [EPA, DHA, linolenic] can be found in fish oil, avocado and unrefined vegetable oils such as flax, hemp, and walnut.
Eat Less: Omega6 [polyunsaturates] [linoleic] can be found in certain vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, and sesame. It’s very easy for us to consume these products and we tend to get more than we really need…try to concentrate on consuming more Omega 3’s and 9’s.
Eat More: Omega 9 [monounsaturates] [oleic] eggs, walnut, macadamia, olive, peanut, chicken, duck, turkey, avocado, almonds, coconut
What role do fats play in health?
- Keep cell membranes fluid and flexible which in turn affects the white blood cells that repel invaders of the body. (Builds your immune system)
- Promote normal growth, especially of blood vessels and nerves. (repair)
Pay attention you ladies who are pregnant or nursing…take EPA/DHA (fish oil) and GLA (borage seed) every night before you go to bed!
- Keep the skin and other tissues youthful and supple through lubrication.
- Are key components of nerve cells
So even though having too much of the wrong kinds of fat is detrimental to health, good fats are essential for health and longevity. Our bodies can’t live fat free. We need significant amounts of essential fatty acids to function properly and enhance immunity. The nutritional deficiencies related to a fat-free diet have been linked to arthritis, cardiovascular disease, PMS, and headaches.
We took nuts out of our diet because they have too much fat in them according to the ADA. Now look what we’ve created…What are the main health problems in American Society today? Heart disease, cancer, obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes!
- Nuts are most valuable in the way they affect cholesterol. The monounsaturated fats in nuts help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol.
- All nuts contain Arginine, an amino acid that helps keep arteries clear, and magnesium and potassium which are associated with lowering blood pressure.
- Almonds in comparison with other nuts top the list for calcium, fiber, and Vitamin E content.
- Brazil nuts have more calcium than milk and are high in selenium (antioxidant).
- Pistachios have more fiber than broccoli.
- Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, which helps promote fertility, cells reproduce, support vision, support immunity, and protect against free radicals.
Nuts can be eaten raw and unsalted or roasted and unsalted BUT watch out for hydrogenated fats used in the roasting process!! For 2 months, eat more nuts and cut out your hydrogenated fats. I guarantee your skin, hair, and nails with thank you for it, and your hips will thank you for it too!
Hydrogenated Fat Substitution
- “Earth Balance” Spread (butter substitute), Olive Oil, “Spectrum” Shortening, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Avocado Oil, Grape Seed Oil.
- Note: Canola oil is not a good quality oil. It is cheap, but it goes rancid quickly even at very low temperatures and is typically genetically modified.
Be sure to check the ingredients list. If the words “partially hydrogenated” appear in the ingredients, the product contains trans fat. Also note that if the word “shortening” in the ingredient, the product probably contains partially hydrogenated oil which means that it contains trans fat.