CHAPTER NINE-PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OILS
My six-year-old daughter understands the dangers inherent in partially hydrogenated oils. When we are at a restaurant she will ask if what she is eating is low carb and will oftentimes ask the server, "Are there partially hydrogenated oils in this food?" Of course the servers have not a clue what my daughter is talking about even though she is asking about the presence of the most dangerous fat out there. Partially hydrogenated oils are nothing more than a FAKE fat created in laboratories for ease of use by food manufacturers.
Partially hydrogenated oils are also known as trans fats. You know they are present when you review the ingredient list and see 'partially hydrogenated soybean oil or partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil', the two most common. By law now the ingredients must list the amount of trans fats. But do not get too complacent.
A lot of side packaging labels will have zero grams of trans fat, but when you read the ingredient list you will notice it contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Well, what's up with that? The reason the food industry can get away with this is that if there is less than half a gram (0.5 grams or 500 milligrams), they are allowed, by law, to put zero.
Well, I am sorry, but the presence of 500 milligrams is not zero at least not in my book. No pun intended. And the other problem is that it only takes microscopic amounts to wreak havoc on our systems. So what exactly is it about a trans fat that makes it so dangerous?
Well, a trans fat is so named because of how the molecule looks. A trans fat contains what are known as double bonds. Think of a trailer attached to a car by a hitch. Usually there is only one hitch. Now pretend that for a particular trailer you need to have two hitches attached to the car. This is kind of what a double bond is. It just means that things are attached to each other with two attachments rather than one.
If a molecule contains a double bond things can be attached above or diagonally opposite in relation to the double bond. Don’t get too crazy trying to visualize this. Suffice it to say that when things are attached diagonally opposite to the double bond it is referred to as trans. When things are placed above the double bond it is called cis. These are just the words we biochemists use to describe where things are located in relation to the double bond.
Now if we have a double bond in a fat where the attachment just happens to be diagonally opposite it is called a trans fat. Trans fats are fake, they are artificially produced. Since these fats are fake and artificial our bodies do not know how to break these trans fats down. In fact, we do not have any way to break these fats down safely. Specifically, we do not have the proper enzymes to get rid of these fats. The only fats we can break down are the cis fats.
When our bodies attempt to break down trans fats we produce a thing known as a free radical. Go to your computer, pick your search engine and put in free radicals and cancer, or free radicals and heart disease. How many hits did you get? I know, a lot.
Free radicals are scary. Very scary. They wreak havoc on our systems because they want to attach to everything they come across. When we eat anything that contains a trans fat we cannot break it down and it just goes throughout our bodies causing damage. The damage is generally on our arterial walls. This is why there is now said to be a correlation between trans fats and heart disease as well as cancer.
At the cellular level trans fats may act as signals for cells to turn cancerous. Remember I am referring to very small amounts of trans fats, which may cause this damage. Even half a gram, which may not seem like a lot, may be enough to cause arterial wall damage and possibly turn on cancer genes.
As a side note, in New York City there is a new law which bans trans fats from being used in public restaurants. This is a major step in the right direction. Trans fats should be illegal. No one should have to worry about coming across this deadly FAKE fat.
Some organizations are still promoting margarine as a substitute for butter. Margarine is a trans fat. We now should be able to figure out from our discussion that butter is very good for us. We know that eating butter will raise our HDL and will help us lose weight, as long as we are not putting the butter on a loaf of bread.
Now enter margarine. A trans fat. I told you above what trans fats are and why they are deadly, not just dangerous. Why would anyone in the world advertise margarine as safe? You got me. You now know better. So do not eat things with trans fats in them.
As another interesting side note I came across an e-mail about how plastic and margarine were only one molecule away from being the same. I did some research and found this to be not entirely accurate.
Specifically, when making vinyl plastic molecules of a substance known as ethylene are forced by heat to attach to one another. It appeared as if there were only single bonds present, not the trans bonds we talked about above. In reality margarine more closely resembles rubber. Rubber contains double bonds like margarine although in a cis configuration, not trans. I am not sure what causes me more concern, food resembling plastic, or foods related to rubber. You be the judge.
The e-mail did mention that if you left margarine out in your backyard no insects would touch it. I have not tried this experiment yet, but I will, and report back on my results later. I will not be surprised if no insects are found trying to 'eat' margarine as margarine is devoid of any useful nutritive value for us humans as well. And I am picking on us doctors because some of us have promoted margarine as being safe, when it is not. Here it appears insects are smarter than us doctors.
Dr. James E. Carlson B.S.,D.O.,M.B.A.,J.D.
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