Monday, 23 March 2009 14:42
Eating healthily doesnâ€™t just mean eating organic and local, fresh foods. When it comes to processed food, there is one ingredient you must stay away from because of its damage to our health.
This offender is hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenation is a chemical process where hydrogen atoms are added to oil. Why do that? Basically, to make oil more malleable (softer), to stabilize it, to decrease refrigeration requirements and to make it last longer on supermarket shelves without it becoming rancid. In other words, itâ€™s for profit. It is present in many areas, but especially in the fast food, snack food, fried food and baked good industries. Restaurants also use it for deep-frying.
Hydrogenated oils are (artificial) trans fats (= trans fatty acids).Â It is important to know that hydrogenated oil will show up in the nutrition facts box as trans fat, but not vice-versa. Indeed, some products contain (partially or fully) hydrogenated oil yet list 0 g trans fat. How can that be? The FDA definition of "zero grams trans fats per serving" really means â€œless than one gram per tablespoonâ€, it does not mean truly zero. So depending on the quantity and variety of processed foods you consume, your daily intake might be as high as 4.8 grams of trans fat. The National Academy of Sciences has determined there is no safe level of trans fat consumption. So check the ingredients list, not the nutrition facts box: if you see hydrogenated oil, just donâ€™t buy or eat it.Â
Hydrogenated oil lower levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and its consumption has been linked to coronary heart disease. Although the correlation is still a hypothesis, Denmark saw its ischemic heart disease deaths drop by 50% after it banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils in 2003.Â Switzerland also banned the use of partially hydrogenated oil in April 2008. It is also suspected to play a role in obesity and diabetes.
References and Further Reading
Ban Trans FatsÂ