Partially Hydrogenated Oils are Jill’s Number 2 Nutrition Vampire
Real earth grown fats like mono-poly-and even saturated fats in the right balance are not only good for you but are essential to excellent health. However there is a very naughty Nutrition Vampire called hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil that is bad, bad, bad for you. Yes, it is that simple. Partially hydrogenated oils are man made unhealthy fats that are unfortunately a ubiquitous ingredient in over 4000 foodstuffs, similar in saturation to aspartame (Nutrition Vampire Number 1).
PHO’s are contaminating our food supply
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are found in everything and I mean everything, especially in baked goods, including cookies, breads, chips, and crackers, plus it’s in all kinds of sweet Valentine’s confections including chocolates! So this is why I just had to get this info out to you just in time for Valentines Day. I want to warn all of you lovers, young and old, to read your labels before you buy your sweetheart a box of chocolates that might end up not being so sweet!
What are Hydrogenated Oils?
Partially hydrogenated oils, or, as my sister-in-law calls them, PHO’s, are fats manipulated in the laboratory to extend the shelf life of packaged and poor quality products. They are created from polyunsaturated oils that start as liquid at room temperature then are put through a chemical process to add hydrogen molecules to them in order to harden them and make them solid.
Why avoid PHO’s?
Trans fats do major damage. As the fats are transported throughout your body, they eventually land on cell receptor sites, hardening the outer membranes, reducing membrane fluidity, there by decreasing the cells ability to transport nutrients, electrolytes, and wastes. These oils also increase the unhealthy LDL cholesterol that links to heart disease while decreasing the healthier HDL. While these fats are busy clogging your arteries, creating inflammation, creating oxidative damage, poor skin condition, digestive issues, and decreased nutrient absorption, multi-national companies are benefiting off your dollars spent. Additional adverse affects are:
•Low quality and volume of breast milk
• Reduced visual acuity
• Greater risk of asthma
• Abnormal sperm
• Decreased testosterone
• Increased heart disease
• Low birth weight babies
and EFA deficiencies
Read the Label!!
The scary thing is that even if the outside of the box or bag says no trans fats or PHO’s there is still a great chance those products contain them. American FDA laws permit companies and eateries to legally lie, I mean to say, they have the legal right to promote a product as trans-fat free if it has less than 0.5 grams per serving. But…but …but…. keep asking for the truth people. I have experienced many occasions where I took the next step and asked the company or manufacturer if it contains the oils. I press on with phone calls and emails until I get the accurate information. One time it was for my cousins Boy Scout fundraiser!!… so buyer be ware even if they give you their honor.
Personal Trials and Tribulations with navigating the PHO world….
I have raised my kids to know that I am all in favor of them enjoying a sweet treat now and then but I want to make sure that if they are going to eat something sugary that it better be well-made with the purest ingredients!! I have had some down right hard learning moments navigating avoiding contaminated foods. One of the most poignant moments was when our family went out for ice cream a few years ago. Before I had a chance to ask the vendor about the ingredients, my kid bought the cone. Sadly, we discovered that this ice cream did have hydrogentated oils in them because I asked! My son was sooo bummed that he ended up tossing it outside in the garbage can in disgust. I think he was first mad at me for asking because, hey, if you don’t know any better you wouldn’t need to change but the knowledge was gained and he decided he didn’t want to eat it. I felt really terrible, not so much that we literally threw away our money but that our children have to navigate such a treacherous world of eating.
Since 2005, according to Center for Science in the Public Interest, the amount of trans fats being put into our foods has declined by more than 50%. That seems hopeful. Why, because the people-you and me– are demanding a healthier food system. The FDA has finally taken this off of the GRAS list – which is the generally recognized as safe.
There is an active movement to ban trans fats in restaurants so make your town, city or county one of them. The following places are the leaders in this movement and have had success at restricting the use of PHO’s. New York City, Philadelphia, Montgomery County, MD; Brookline, MA; King County, WA; Nassau County, NY; Westchester County, NY; Suffolk County, NY; Boston, MA; Stamford, CT; Cambridge, MA; California, Albany, NY; and Broome County, NY.
There are plenty of companies and restaurants that pride themselves on using healthy ingredients. Look for organic and fair-trade products. Always read the labels and ask your servers for the ingredients because you might be surprised that your favorite hot chocolate or taqueria is using them. And then again, you might be surprised and delighted to know that they only use the best- and that is what we are living for!!