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Trans fat replacements NOT that healthy
You pick up that packet of ……………
And pour over the label. It’s got 4 g of total fat. Oops ! 1.5 g of it is saturated, but Yah ! it’s got 0 g of trans fat.
Trans fats are bad
You KNOW trans fats have been implicated in cardiovascular disease, so this is something on your radar.
It’s on lots of people’s radar.
So much so, that many countries around the world, have legislation that ensures, that trans fats, aren’t put in products. And the WHO is committed to make the world trans fat free, by REPLACING trans fats, with alternative products by 2023.
Click here to see the situation in your country.
Replacement not elimination
Products like tans fats ARE NEEDED, because, it’s hard to get the consistency of munchies, “right”, when you’re not using “solid” fats.
And thanks to the chemistry………. polyunsaturated fats, are liquid at room temperature.
Unless, you “do something”, to solidify them.
The making of a trans fat
Partially hydrogenating them, solves the problem………but leaves you with, oddly arranged, trans fatty acids.
These man made fatty acids, can and do get used.
They can be stored in adipose tissue or incorporated into membrane lipids, impacting membrane fluidity and cell function.
It’s NOT natural
A particularly worrisome, effect of consuming trans fats, is they change lipid metabolism – these changes, are seen with altered lipid profiles.
Typically there are
- Too many triglycerides
- Too many low density lipoproteins
- Too few high density lipoproteins
Mmmmm………… this is the chemistry, linked to cardiovascular disease. Ouch !
So bring on the ALTERNATIVES.
Well, the alternative, that is being increasingly used, are interesterified fats. Basically, using a little chemical whizzardry, the fatty acids are re-arranged, in such a way, as to solidify the fat.
Now, what is great about this technique, is the fatty acids, that are created, are “NORMAL”.
Sort of. The actual fatty acids are the normal garden variety.
They’re just, not in their usual position.
Not a problem
On paper, this should not be a problem – and the science backs this up.
Interesterified fats don’t upset lipid profiles.
But they are different………….
Rats on diet
A team of researchers based in Brazil, confirmed this, in a rat feeding trail. The rats, in this study, were fed the American Institute of Nutrition’s recipe, for a normocaloric diet, which serves up 10 % of calories from fat….
But they switched up the fat.
So half the rats got ordinary soybean oil and half got interesterified soybean oil.
To create the interesterified oil, they treated a batch of soybean oil, with the special catalytic agent, sodium methoxide, which facilitates the interestification process.
The fatty acid profile
Using gas chromatorgraphy, our team confirmed, exactly what was in, the rat dinners.
Here is the mix
As you can see, there is NO difference, in the fatty acid profile, of the two dinners. But, when they looked at the regiospecific distribution of the fatty acids, using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, there was a difference.
More saturated fatty acids, were in the middle and less, were on the end.
So what ?
Surely this doesn’t matter.
The piggy in the middle
Well, it doesn’t in the short term.
Animals fed on the different fat, for 8 weeks, weighed about the same, but, by 16 weeks of the diet………….there were hints, that the diets, were not, THE SAME.
The animals eating the interesterified soybean oil, were marginally heavier. And their ability to “handle” sugar, was not as good.
When the team looked at gene expression patterns, in the animal’s liver……….. there were also differences
Good or bad ? It is hard to say.
The study is in rats and rats are NOT the same as humans. There have been a number of studies looking at the impact of these fats on humans, but they’re typically short term, at lowish levels.
We’re consuming these LONG TERM – from the cradle to the grave.
Better but not best
The take home message, interesterified fats, are not JUST LIKE, natural fats.
They have a better safety profile, than trans fats.
But, they’re probably still problematic, so just like, you should be CAUTIOUS of trans fats, you should be CAUTIOUS of interesterified fats.
At this stage, we don’t really know, what eating large amounts of them, on a regular basis, does.
And, we have no idea how much we’re eating.
Err on the side of caution – they’re in highly processed foods….
As far as possible, opt to JERF i.e. just eat REAL food.
By doing this, you will limit your consumption of both trans fats and interesterified fats.
Being sedentary i.e. not moving enough, is a big health issue. TV remotes, cars, obesity are all blamed, but the real culprit, might be what you ate for dinner .
Substituting vegetable oils for saturated fat, definitely lowers your cholesterol levels. But does this protect your from heart disease ? In a word – NO.
Odds are, your dietician and doctor, would give your lunch, an A rating, but there is one, small problem with your sandwich…… it’s heavy in omega-6 PUFAs….