Trans Fat Ban + What’s Next
By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff
June 18, 2018
First the good news! Trans fats have finally been banned. As you know, at Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we have been warning people about the dangers of consuming trans fats for over 20 years. The U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) gave food manufacturers until June 18, 2018, to remove trans fats from all processed foods. The two most commonly used trans fats by the food industry have been partially hydrogenated soybean oil and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil.
This ban is important because over 90% of the money Americans spend on food is for processed foods. Because trans fats are banned, that doesn’t mean unhealthy fats are going away. Hydrogenated fats and refined oils, such as soybean, corn oil, cottonseed oil and canola oil are still commonly used in processed food.
What’s Coming Next?
To get around the trans fat ban, food companies are now blending fully hydrogenated oils with liquid polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as soybean or corn oil, and putting them through a process called interesterification. This process changes the structure of the oils, so they act like partially hydrogenated oil without the trans fats. Food manufacturers use these inexpensive fats to create the specific texture desired for baked goods or snack foods and to extend shelf life.
Long story short, the interesterification oil blend may be trans fat free, but still contains chemical residues, hexanes, and many other materials full of free radicals. Of course, the processed food industry is hoping that these new interesterified blends will not have the negative health effects of trans fats, but the verdict is still out. We will look to future research for the answer.
New Potential Health Concerns
What are possible health concerns of using interesterified fats in foods? Limited research seems to indicate that HDL cholesterol dropped slightly, but of more concern, blood sugar rose an alarming 20%, because insulin production dropped due to the effect the interesterified oil blends had on the function of the pancreas. A recent mouse study found that the mother’s intake of interesterified fats changed the lipid metabolism in the liver and that their adult mice offspring had higher blood sugar levels. (Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2014; 34:250). Frequent elevated blood sugar can cause many health problems including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, aches and pains, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, hot flashes, cravings, and inflammation.
The easiest way to avoid unhealthy fats is to avoid processed foods. That means avoiding products that contain hydrogenated fats, and refined oils, such as soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil and canola oil. Ingredients on a label that indicate the product contains interesterified fats are interesterified oils, high stearate or stearic rich oils. For health, we encourage clients and class members to limit processed foods and to prepare real food at home.
After extensive research, we believe that animal fats and healthy, monounsaturated fats are still the best fats and oils for long-term health.
Our favorites are butter, unrefined coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and unrefined avocado oil. Here’s a list of the healthiest fats and oils to use at home.
- Butter from grass fed cows
- Grass-fed ghee (clarified butter)
- Grass-fed, organic lard
- Grass-fed, organic tallow (beef fat)
- Grass-fed, organic duck fat
- Grass-fed, organic chicken fat
- Organic virgin unrefined coconut oil
- Organic palm oil
- Organic avocado oil
- Organic extra virgin olive oil
The only polyunsaturated fats we recommend are unrefined, cold-pressed, GMO-free, organic oils, such as organic expeller-pressed safflower oil or organic expeller-pressed sesame oil, often found in salad dressings.