Saturday, January 26, 2013


Yes, I did, much to my chagrin.....So we're eating these delicious MISSION CARB BALANCE 'Whole Wheat Tortillas' when my wife starts to read the ingredient list....and we can all guess where this is going... "Jim, what's interesterified soybean oil?" Yes, the tortilla I was currently masticating fell out of my mouth (but I managed to save the meat part)....

"Goshdarnit!!" I exclaimed. And yes, I really did say goshdarnnit...I immediately recognized that type of soybean oil as I had done a radio show on it a few years back. Interesterification is a process that switches around the fatty acids on a triglyceride molecule. Remember that a triglyceride molecule contains 3 (the tri part) fatty acids connected to a glycerol backbone chain. These fatty acids are connected to the glycerol backbone chain through what are known as 'ester' linkages; hence the 'ester' part of inter'ester'ification. Now, vegetable fats generally have specific fatty acids at the 1 and 3 position of the glycerol backbone (stearic & palmitic which are saturated) and an unsaturated fatty acid (oleic or linoleic) at the 2 position. The interesterification process will remove the # 2 fatty acid and replace it with a more saturated one.

Ok, I can hear some of you saying "So what's the problem with that? Now you have a triglyceride that's completely saturated and haven't you been saying all along Dr Jim that saturated fats are better for us than mono and polyunsaturated?"

Yes, you are correct in your understanding that saturated fats are the safest & healthiest fats to consume (I can hear the gasps of incredulity from anyone new reading my Blog who doesn't understand the correct way to eat; and btw, I broke 45,000 views this month, woo hoo, there goes my ego again....or is it superego....or the id? Aw heck, what did Freud know anyway...:-)

Ok, so back to that newly created saturated fat from the interesterification process; the first problem is that we are creating a fatty acid that our bodies may not have seen naturally before. What this means is that like trans fats where our bodies do not have the necessary enzymes to break them down, resulting in the buildup of free radicals; so too is my concern that we may not have the necessary enzymes to break down this 'new' fat created by the interesterification process; will this result in the creation of free radicals as well?

There have been studies looking at the effects of the interesterified fats on human blood chemistry and while the number of subjects were low, the results were cause for concern. One study revealed that the HDL (our good cholesterol) lowered and that insulin levels dropped dramatically causing blood sugars to raise by about 20%. It is important to note that this study looked specifically at postprandial blood levels not fasting blood levels (postprandial simply means after eating). Other studies revealed no changes in blood sugar, but this study was reporting the effects on fasting blood sugar only. Now it needs to be stressed that fasting blood levels do not truly reveal what's going on in our bodies. Labs analyzed after a 12-14 hour fast do not reveal the true biochemistry of our blood; it is what I call cheating. We should always measure non-fasting labs if we want a true idea of what is really happening in our bloodstreams.I immediately recognized that fact when I saw the researchers had performed the analysis under a fasting state, this is not telling us what is really going on with our blood biochemistry.

If all of this isn't enough , a quick review of how an interesterified fatty acid is created should be enough to scare the fecoliths out of ya.... This is, once again, a highly industrialized process using bleaching detergents, carcinogenic solvents, dangerous metallic alloys, and deodorizing. This last step, referred to as deodorizing, can actually cause trans fats to appear in the mix; ummm, not good.

So the moral of this story is please read your side packaging ingredient list; you'd think I would've learned my lesson with the whole Green Giant debacle....And no, I'm not eating the rest of those tortillas. An interesting side note is that not all Mission low carb wraps have the interesterified fatty acids; so again, my mistake was that I assumed that because I had read through the ingredients before and didn't see partially or interesterified fats, that I was ok......and let's all remember what happens when we assume...

Have a great rest of your weekend everyone! And thanks to everyone who helped me break the 45,000 view mark!

dr jim :-)