Intersterified Oils: The New Trans Fats?

We have known for many years that trans fats increase risk for heart attacks and some cancers. Laws requiring trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils to be listed on nutrition labels went into effect last year, so food manufacturers are finally eliminating them from their products. One substitute that is appearing in some foods is a new type of fat made with a process called interesterification or fatty acid randomization. Interesterified oils have saturated fatty acids, usually from plants, inserted into other vegetable oils. A study from Brandeis University shows that both interesterified fats and partially hydrogenated oils raise the bad LDL and lower the good HDL cholesterol much more than the plant saturated fats found in palm, palm kernel and coconut oils.

For more than 60 years, scientists have blamed saturated fats found primarily in meat, chicken and whole milk diary products for the high incidence of heart attacks in the United States and other countries that eat the so-called "Western diet". This study supports others that show that saturated fats in plants may be safer than saturated fats in animal tissue. However, scientists generally agree that the safest fats are those that are liquid at room temperature: oils that contain primarily polyunsaturated or monouunsaturated fats. Substituting polyunsaturated fats for saturated fats lowers LDL cholesterol, and the monounsaturated fats produce a more stable LDL cholesterol that helps to prevent heart attacks. Journal reference for this article; more on trans fats; know your good and bad fats


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