The hydrogenated fats, although not saturated, act like saturated fats in our bodies and can do as much, or maybe even more, harm. The food industry is our friend and our foe. In my opinion, it is more foethan friend, however, when it does things like include hydrogenated fat in our foods, thenpromote those same foods as healthy.
The Really Bad Guy Fats
The hydrogenated fats, although not saturated, act like saturated fats in our bodies and can do as much, or maybe even more, harm. The food industry is our friend and our foe. In my opinion, it is more foe than friend, however, when it does things like include hydrogenated fat in our foods, then promote those same foods as healthy.
The food industry is our friend and our foe. In my opinion, it is more foe than friend, however, when it does things like include hydrogenated fat in our foods, then promote those same foods as healthy.
Hydrogenated fats, although not saturated, act like saturated fats in our bodies and can do as much, or maybe even more, harm. Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats are found in almost every prepared food in the supermarket from those bran muffins you think are good for you to the rice or pasta mixes you swear by for healthy eating.
So what the heck is hydrogenated fat, anyway?
Hydrogenated fats are created when an oil that is largely unsaturated, such as corn oil, has hydrogen added to it, causing fat to become more solid at room temperature. During hydrogenation, the unsaturated fat becomes more saturated. The more solid and hydrogenated the fat, the more trans fatty acids there are in the product.
The more trans fatty acids there are in what you eat, the more it will act like saturated fat in your diet. Author Harold McGee in his book On Food and Cooking writes that hydrogenated oils are "artificially saturated."
Lisa Hark, Ph.D., R.D., writes, "Hydrogenation gives foods, such as crackers, cookies, potato chips, French fries, and doughnuts, a longer shelf-life by making them less likely to turn rancid. There is presently no way to determine the amount of trans unsaturated fats Americans are consuming since the revised food labels do not specify the amount contained in the product."
Hydrogenated fats are best exemplified in margarine. They keep margarine semi-hard at room temperature and have recently sparked a margarine-butter debate.
At the heart of this debate are the trans fatty acids found in margarine as well as many processed and fast foods. At one time, trans fat was thought to be better for you than saturated fat in butter. But some studies, including a recent study of 80,000 nurses, have found that trans fat may be just as harmful to your health as saturated fat — and possibly worse.
Trans fat was once thought to have the same effect on your health as the liquid, non-hydrogenated vegetable oils. But studies are finding trans fat may increase blood cholesterol just like saturated fat.
So does this mean you should switch back to butter? Most health experts say no. Butter is hard and spreads poorly on toast and bagels. This makes you use more butter than the softer margarine on your toast and the like. But health experts do recommend limiting trans fat in your diet.
The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research writes "A recent study of 80,000 nurses showed that women whose diets were high in both saturated and trans fats had an increased risk of heart attack. But of greater interest was the finding that nurses who consumed considerable amounts of trans fat faced an ever higher heart attack risk than nurses who ate a lot of saturated fat."
The Mayo Foundation continues, "The study didn’t prove that trans fat causes coronary artery disease, but it adds to previous evidence that trans fat may be as bad for your heart as saturated fat. In fact, trans fat may even be more damaging because in addition to raising your ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol level, it also appears to lower your ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol level."
Good cholesterol??? That’s right, cholesterol can act as a good guy or a bad guy, too.
The good guys here are high-density lipoproteins, or HDL, which help transport fat from the body. The “bad guys” are low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, because LDL cholesterol produces fatty deposits in arteries.
Close to home: The editor of SOLO is a pretty thin guy. Certainly not someone you would ever suspect of having high cholesterol. But that’s just what he had.
Until recently he ate a large percentage of his diet in hydrogenated fats from supermarket baked goods. One month he cut those hydrogenated fats almost completely from his diet. His LDL cholesterol, the bad guy, fell almost 70 points in that month. Not exactly a scientific study, but it certainly convinced me.
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