Thursday, April 28, 2011

Partially Hydrogenated What?!

I'm just going to tackle the biggie right off the bat.  Partially hydrogenated oils.  What a long word to descibe a type of fat.  So long in fact, its got a nickname, trans fat.  Much easier to say, if you ask me, but no better for your body!  Following, I will explain WHAT trans fats are and WHY they are bad for you. 

What are trans fats? 
Trans fat comes from adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. Trans fats are more solid than oil is, making them less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacturing of foods helps foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel (reference Mayo Clinic).  Now I don't know about you, but anything being less greasy sounds good to me.  Unfortunately, when it comes to trans fats, less greasy = less healthy....

What are the health risks? 
1-Coronary Artery Disease.  Coronary artery disease develops when your coronary arteries — the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients — become damaged or diseased. Cholesterol-containing deposits (plaques) on your arteries are usually to blame for coronary artery disease (reference Mayo Clinic).

2-Negative changes in your cholesterol.  Trans fat raises the LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers the HDL (cholesterol). A study done in the New England Journal of Medicine found that on a per-calorie basis, trans fats appear to increase the risk of CHD more than any other macronutrient, conferring a substantially increased risk at low levels of consumption (reference Mayo Clinic).

3-Other possible health risks that are under scientific review include links to Alzheimers disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes, infertility, obesity, liver disfunction and depression (reference Mayo Clinic).

Who invented this stuff?  That honor goes to a German chemist named Wilhelm Normann.  He was able to partially hygrogenate oils in 1901 and patented the process in 1902, where he then built a fat hardening facility (that just doesn't sound right).  In 1909 he sold the patent rights to Proctor and Gamble who in turn began making and marketing the first hydrogenated shortening called Crisco (ever heard of it?!)  Further success came from the marketing technique of giving away free cookbooks in which every recipe called for Crisco (reference Wikipedia).  I gotta say, great marketing tool to give away free cookbooks calling for your ingredient in every recipe....

What products have trans fats in them?  Well, pretty much everything that can be boxed or bagged.  Chips, bread, cookies, crackers, cakes, pastries, french fries, the list goes on and on.  If you are thinking, Crap!  I LOVE carbs and bread and cookies, I can't give that up, have no fear, the Additive Free Foodie is here!  That's where this blog will come along side you, sharing recipes, food swaps and other tips to help you.  I will be sharing LOTS of substitution ideas, mostly mainstream stuff you can find at any grocrey store, even *gasp* Wal-Mart.  I promise you, there is a substitution for everything! 

Finally, I know it may sound overwhelming for those of you who have never thought about eliminating this from your diet, but with so many people choosing to go trans-fat free these days, you really can make it work, on a budget, with young kids at home!

1 comment:

  1. We (May & Rob) are not as diligent as Melanie and Scott are about totally removing trans fat from our diet. However, I will check the ingredients before we put a new item in our shopping basket. I just had bloodwork and will attest that limiting trans fat makes a huge difference. Recently my bloodwork report showed my LDL & HDL at normal range and my CHD at 188. My health issues I blame on my genes, which I hope to exchange for better ones someday! :) This information is very helpful Melanie, keep up the good work!