What’s replacing the Trans Fats in your Food? Interesterified Fats


Many food producers are phasing out partially hydrogenated oils, which contain harmful trans fats. While many will inform you of the removal of trans fat from their product, they don’t give you much information about the fats they are using to replace the trans fat. For many pre-packaged foods, some companies are turning to fats in the class called "interesterified" fats.

Interesterification is one of three main fat modification techniques. The other two techniques are fractionation and hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is the process used to produce trans fats. Like partial hydrogenation, which generates unnatural trans fats, interesterification produces some molecules that are also rare or nonexistent in nature.

In a few studies, these interesterified fats have been shown to lower HDL (good cholesterol), raise LDL (bad cholesterol), raise glucose levels, and suppress insulin and C-peptide levels. [C-peptide is a blood test used to determine if the pancreas’ beta cells are producing insulin.] Critics say these studies were funded by companies who stood to gain something from the "bad press," but the problem still remains that this product is allowed into our food supply without us fully understanding its health implications. Does this remind you of something?

Unlike trans fats, which are required to be listed on labels, interesterified fats are typically listed as "fully hydrogenated" or even as "interesterified fats." There is very little public attention being paid to these new manufactured fats. It took 30 years to finally bring to light the negative health effects of trans fat. How long will it take for the public to become fully aware of the effects of "interesterified fats"?

We have always promoted eating foods in their most natural state. Manufactured fats whether interesterified or hydrogenated do not metabolize in the body the same way as natural fats. Please, always read your ingredient labels. If you see "interesterified" or "hydrogenated," put it back on the shelf!

The role of fat

Dieting is an obsessive behavior. It is not normal or rational. Most conventional diets cleverly encourage the obsession by having you count calories or remember what you can or cannot eat. These diets treat eating in complicated ways according to inflexible rules. Fat free usually means added sugar and caffeine. What we would like for you to focus on is the nutritional quality of food. Simplify life! Eat foods in their natural states: fresh fruits and vegetables, good clean meats, and dense whole grain breads. Reduce the expensive, pre-packaged foods.

Counting fat grams takes your focus off the nutritional quality of the food; you assume that all fats are equal in nutritional value and that all fats make you fat! By eating more nutritious foods and including natural, high quality fat in your diet, you will get hungry less often.

So the question becomes what are good fats? Omega 3 (polyunsatures) can be found in fish oil and unrefined vegetable oils, such as flax. Omega 9 (monounsaturates) are in eggs, walnut, macadamia, olive, peanut, chicken, duck, turkey, avocado, almonds and coconut. Although considered to be a "good fat," try to eat less Omega 6 (polyunsaturates), which can be found in certain vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, grape seed and sesame. These are the easiest to consume, so try and focus on more 3’s and 9’s. Eat more avocados, guacamole, nuts, seeds, fish and coconut oil. Try using coconut oil in your mashed potatoes instead of butter/margarine or simply spread it on a piece of warm toast. It contains special fatty acids that we tend to neglect in our diet.

You need fat

Fats keep cell membranes fluid and flexible, which in turn affects the white blood cells that repel invaders of the body (builds your immune system). They promote normal growth, especially of blood vessels and nerves. The "good fats" keep the skin and other tissues youthful and supple through lubrication, and they also make hormones. So, if you are not consuming enough of the proper fats, you will not be able to make and balance hormones properly. Our bodies cannot live fat free. We need significant amounts of essential fatty acids to function properly and enhance immunity.

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Dr. Shannon O'Keefe
Dr. Shannon O'Keefe is a graduate of Northwestern College of Chiropractic. She is certified by the Institute for Functional Medicine and is a practicing member of the American Chiropractic Association. She has 18 years experience in the Chiropractic and Functional Medicine field and has completed her Diplomat degree in Clinical Nutrition. An article she authored will be published in the April 2008 issue of Nutritional Perspectives: Journal on the Council of Nutrition of American Chiropractic Association for her research on bacterial and parasitic infections as it relates to disease. She co-owns and operates O'Keefe/Matz Chiropractic Clinic in St. Paul, specializing in treating patients with complex and challenging health issues including Depression, Diabetes, Rheumatoid arthritis, cholesterol and heart disease, M.S., Autism, Allergies, Heavy Metal Toxicity and Skin disorders. Visit www.okeefechiropractic.com or call 651.292.8072. Copyright


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