Imagine if you walked into your favorite pastry store and found your favorite cookies lying in a pool of soggy vegetable oil. Chances are you wouldn’t buy them. Well, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention and in this unfortunate case, that invention is the hidden killer of the innocent consumers.
What are hydrogenated oils?
Regular vegetable oils are made up of chains of fatty acids which include many double-bonds of carbon and hydrogen, with hydrogen being mostly on the same side of the bond. The process of hydrogenation reconfigures these double bonds, so that the hydrogen atoms alternate sides and hence these are also called trans (latin: across) fats. This makes the oils more viscous and solid at room temperature. The result? Using them is easier for bakers (a paste as opposed to a liquid), cheaper (the process increases the volume of the oil so you get more), more beautifying for the cookies (no more sogginess!) and downright deadly for you.
Why hydrogenated fats are bad for you
How do I hate thee, let me count the ways:
- Hydrogenation changes the very molecular structure of the oil into a form that the human body has never dealt with in its evolution. This unnatural food is new and dangerous for a system not used to dealing with it.
- The hydrogenation process requires the use of such toxic catalyst-metals such as nickel, palladium, platinum or cobalt.
- Trans fats cause a lowering of HDL (good) cholesterol and an increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- The modified structure that hydrogenation causes is very similar to that od Stearic Acid (the same compound in making soap and candles – and is essential to make these products rigid) – it is believed thay also cause arteries to become rigid over time.
- One of the more serious consequences is the possibility of the onset of the non-insulin dependent version of Type 2 Diabetes. In this version of Type 2 Diabetes, the body is indeed producing enough insulin, but the insulin is not effective in removing glucose from the blood and feeding the cells. This condition is also known as insulin-resistance. This article gives the details.
- End of the day trans fats are artificially saturated, so they atleast have the harmful effects of saturated fats including artery clogging and raising the risk of heart disease.
“0 grams trans fat” and other lies
Ever seen the grocery aisles lined with products that seem to scream out “0 grams trans fats!”? The sad truth is that as per FDA regulations “if the serving contains less than 0.5 gram [of trans fat], the content, when declared, shall be expressed as zero.” So you can still see products with hydrogenated oils posing as healthy and trans-fat free ones.
Common products that have hydrogenated oils
Consumer Reports has a list of the top offendors in this category and the list includes surprising names like Nabisco Wheat Thins and Kellogs (frozen) buttermilk waffles. If ever a picture was worth a thousand words, this page has it.
- A well-researched and comprehensive article on hydrogenated oils can be found here: “Hydrogenated Oils-Silent Killers by columnist, David Lawrence Dewey Â© copyrighted 1998” . This article is a must-read if you wish to fully understand the serious consequences of consuming foods with hydrogenated oils.
- An organisation called Ban Trans Fats runs an online campaign to ban partially hydrogenated oils.
Foods with hydrogenated oils pose a serious threat to your health and well-being. The good news is you can easily banish them from your pantry and find healthful alternatives to almost all of them. Take few seconds to check the list of ingredients on the nutrition label before you buy. If you see hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) oils listed high up on the list, then keep that product away from your family.
[tags] health, fitness, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, insulin resistance, diabetes, type 2 diabetes[/tags]