On November 7, 2013, the FDA issued a preliminary determination that trans fats are not “generally recognized as safe“, which was widely seen as a precursor to a reclassification of trans fats as a “food additive,” meaning they could not be used in foods without specific regulatory authorization. This would have the effect of virtually eliminating trans fats from the US food supply.
This evolution began when FDA first proposed in 1999 that manufacturers be required to declare the amount of trans fat on Nutrition Facts labels because of public health concerns. That requirement became effective in 2006.
However, there are still many processed foods made with partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the major dietary source of trans fat in processed food. Trans fat has been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, in which plaque builds up inside the arteries and may cause a heart attack.
Keefe says that even though the FDA requirement that trans fat be listed on the Nutrition Facts label took effect in January 2006, consumers took the health warnings to heart early. They started turning away from foods with trans fat soon after publication of FDA’s final rule in 2003. Taking the lead from consumers, many processed food manufacturers followed suit and voluntarily changed their food formulations to reduce or eliminate trans fat.
However, Mical E. Honigfort, a consumer safety officer at FDA, says that trans fat can still be found in such processed foods as:
- crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies and other baked goods
- snack foods (such as microwave popcorn)
- frozen pizza
- vegetable shortenings and stick margarines
- coffee creamers
- refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls)
- ready-to-use frostings
Soybean Farmers Respond to FDA Ban on Trans Fat
In response to today’s notice by the FDA, Mississippi soybean farmer and ASA President Danny Murphy issued the following statement: “The vast majority of soybean oil consumed is not partially hydrogenated and is free of trans fats, so consumers can be assured of the continued safety and healthfulness of soybean oil and the many food products that contain it. It’s also important to remember that soybean oil is a very healthy oil that is high in poly-unsaturated fats and has high levels of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.”
Murphy pointed out that since 2003 the soybean industry has been aggressively developing soy oil that contains no trans fats, “According to the FDA’s own analysis, average consumer consumption of trans fats has fallen by more than 70 percent in the past decade. We’ve replaced the functional characteristics that some baking and frying applications needed from partially hydrogenated oils through blending of various oils, the blending of fully hydrogenated soybean oil (which does not contain any trans fats) with liquid soybean and other oils, and other processes that reduce or eliminate trans fats.”
Murphy added that seed and technology companies within the soybean industry have developed soybean varieties that are high in heart-healthy high oleic fatty acids and eliminate the need for partial hydrogenation. These high-oleic soybean oil varieties enable food companies to get the functionality they desire for flavor stability, texture, and other important characteristics while avoiding the tradeoff to higher saturated fat or trans fat levels that comes with using palm oil or partially hydrogenated oil for stability. “The soy checkoff is working closely with these companies to accelerate the commercialization of these high oleic soybean varieties, and we expect to have significant quantities of high oleic soybean oil available in the marketplace by 2016,” he said.
Soybean Oil: One of the Most Harmful Ingredients in Processed Foods – Dr. Mercola
Besides the health hazards related to the trans fats created by the partial hydrogenation process, soybean oil is, in and of itself, NOT a healthy oil. Add to that the fact that the majority of soy grown in the US is genetically engineered, which may have additional health consequences. When taken together, partially hydrogenated GE soybean oil becomes one of the absolute worst types of oils you can consume.
Are Low-Linolenic Soybeans the Answer?
We now also have other Monsanto-made soy crops to contend with. Responding to the growing demand for healthier diets, Monsanto launched Vistive low-linolenic soybeans in 2005. Most soybeans contain roughly seven percent linolenic acid. The new varieties contain one to three percent. As explained by Monsanto:
“The oil from these beans can reduce or virtually eliminate trans fat in processed soybean oil… Vistive low-linolenic soybeans have lower levels of linolenic acid. Because of these lower levels, which were achieved through traditional breeding practices, the oil produced by Vistive low-linolenic seeds does not require hydrogenation, the process that is used to increase shelf life and flavor stability in fried foods, baked goods, snack products and other processed foods.”
Yet another soybean variety created by Monsanto is the high stearate soybean, which also has the properties of margarine and shortening without hydrogenation. But are these soybeans any better or safer than either conventional soybeans or Roundup Ready soybeans, even though they don’t have to go through partial hydrogenation, and therefore do not contain trans fat? No one knows.
The other GMO alternative is canola oil –
Canadian Canola Council
The healthiest commodity oil available today
Canola oil contains the least amount of saturated fat of any common edible oil on the market. At least 93% of the fats in canola are the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated varieties.
- Canola has high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
- Its polyunsaturated fats are essential omega-3s – which may help prevent heart attacks and strokes – and omega-6s – which are important for the brain and essential for the growth and development of infants.
- It is a rich source of vitamin E.
- Like all vegetable oils, canola oil is cholesterol-free.
The Great Con-ola
How is the consumer to sort out the conflicting claims about canola oil? Is canola oil a dream come true or a deadly poison? And why has canola captured so large a share of the oils used in processed foods?
Even the dogma that monounsaturated fatty acids are good for the heart is at risk. According to a 1998 report, mice fed a diet containing monounsaturated fats were more likely to develop atherosclerosis than mice fed a diet containing saturated fat.29 In fact, the mice fed monounsaturated fats were even more prone to heart disease than those fed polyunsaturated fatty acids.
This means that the type of diet recommended in books like The Omega Diet–low in protective saturates, bolstered with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and relying on monounsaturated fatty acids, whether from olive or canola oil, for the majority of fat calories–may actually contribute to heart disease. Such diets have been presented with great marketing finesse, but we need to recognize them for what they are–payola for the food companies and con-ola for the public.
So What Oils Do You Think the FDA Are Going to Suggest?
Canola, soybean and corn oil
So What Oils ARE Healthy?
The following list will present 6 of the healthiest cooking oils. I’ll also list the smoke point of each oil, which is the highest temperature that an oil can be heated before becoming dangerous (oxidized or carcinogenic). Knowing the smoke point of each oil will help you determine whether to use it in low or high temperature cooking.
The amount of evidence that links saturated fats and cholesterol to heart disease is slim to none. Unfortunately, the medical world is slow to come around to this evidence and continue to prescribe unhealthy and ineffective low-fat diets and cholesterol lowering drugs to those with heart disease. Even world renowned heart surgeon Dr. Dwight Lundell has spoken out against the vilification of saturated fats:
Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labelled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.” – Dr. Dwight Lundell, MD Cardiologist (source)
To put it simply, the evidence that links heart disease to inflammation caused by processed foods like white flour, white sugar and chemical additives is much stronger.
Dr. Lundell goes on to explain:
What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.”
This is the article I read with the movie that started me thinking.
November 10, 2013
Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Myth Exposed in Mainstream Media in Australia
I think it is interesting regarding the content about cholesterol and statin drugs and how it fits into the “business model” of the FDA’s announcement. The other part of the “business model” will be to push GMO derived oils as a “safe” alternative to trans fats. It’s also interesting to note the similarities to the industry funded studies for the pharmaceutical industry (in the movie) to the industry funded studies for GMOs.
Heart of the Matter Part 1 – Dietary Villains
Heart of the Matter Part 2 – Cholesterol Drug War