3 Processed Fats to Watch Out


Yet again the food industry would seem to be putting profit before safety.  The carcinogenic effects of fat hydrogenation, with its trans-fat byproducts have finally been recognized by the regulators and they are slowly being removed from our food. However, some of the alternative manufacturing methods have even bigger health risks than the toxic processes they are designed to replace.

All commercial industries have at their core the basic requirement to make money for their shareholders. However, for some industries, such as food and drink, the drive to cut costs and increase profits is put ahead of ethical concerns such as animal welfare and even human safety.

Regulations and food labelling are designed to keep consumers safe, but, heavy influence from industry slows down the regulators ability to respond to issues.  It has taken nearly 30 years for the health concerns associated with trans-fats to be fully recognized and for regulators to publicly question their safety.Food labelling is woefully inadequate, and without a degree in chemistry many of the ingredients listed on labels are completely meaningless. Savvy consumers are forced to keep themselves up to date with the latest ingredients, and their host of alternative names, to preserve their health from the impact of corporate greed.

Fat Stabilization

Shelf life, or spoilage, is a major source of financial loss for the food industry.  Many preservatives, stabilizers and additives are added just to increase the length of time food can be kept on the shelf.  This is what makes processed food cheaper than natural ingredients; they can be kept for years with minimal loss. However, the cost to your body of ‘stabilizing’ the food can be huge.Fat is often added to food to improve texture and our perception of the taste.

Evolution equipped our brains with a desire to consume fat and the food industry commercializes this innate behavior and fat is added to almost all processed foods. Usually when fat is heated to high temperatures during processing, or kept for long periods of time, it goes rancid. Rancid fats taste ‘off’ with a stale taste that would put people off eating the food. Therefore fats are selected which are more stable, with higher melting points and more saturated bonds, as they less likely to oxidize and become rancid.  The most commonly used fats in processed food are cheap vegetable oils that have undergone processing to artificially increase the saturation, for example hydrogenation.

Many of the issues associated with processed food are as a result of the adulteration of natural fats and sugars into substances the body simply can’t recognize.  This lack of recognition causes the immune system to react to the unnatural food substances leading to a state of inflammation.  Over a prolonged period this chronic inflammation causes the immune system to attack the body itself and reduces its ability to fight infections and prevent cancerous cells spreading.

Fat Processing

There are 3 main types of processing which fats undergo to make them more stable.

1) Hydrogenation


The most well-known method for processing, and stabilizing, fats is hydrogenation. Chemically adding hydrogen atoms changes vegetables oils from liquid ‘unsaturated’ fats to solid ‘saturated’ fats, i.e. they are saturated with hydrogen. This change in physical properties increases stability and melting point and is used to produce substances such as margarine.  Unfortunately during the processing the natural configuration of the fat, the physical arrangement of its atoms, can be displaced from what is termed ‘cis’ configuration, to ‘trans’ configuration. This accidental ‘trans’ by product is much more common in partially hydrogenated oils.

The health concerns associated with ‘trans’ fats have become sufficiently apparent that the FDA has now called for a ban on partially hydrogenated fats.  Unfortunately ‘trans’ fats are created in other processes including total hydrogenation.

There are numerous health issues associated with trans-fats: they raise levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and reduce levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (both are lipoproteins but with different weights and functionality); they increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by inhibiting the insulin receptors; they lead to immune reactions which cause a whole host of other diseases; they impact the cardiovascular system and have a role in cancer development.  Specifically men are at a greater risk of cardiovascular problems while women’s risk of breast cancer increases significantly when ingesting these toxic byproducts.

2) Interesterification


Due to the known health issues of trans-fats the food industry has been searching for new processes which produce the same low cost, stable, fats.  One method is interesterification which involves using chemical catalysts to add the fatty acid stearic acids to oils.  Fats comprise a glycerol ‘backbone’ and three fatty acid ‘tails’ and they can be chemically modified.  By replacing natural fatty acids and increasing the percentage of the more stable stearic acid the whole fat becomes more stable. Unfortunately this process too includes hazardous waste products, chemical residues and carcinogenic hexane molecules.

Since the process of esterification is relatively new less research has been done but studies have already found that the fats have a worse impact than partially hydrogenated fats.  Specifically they elevate blood sugar by as much as 20% in one month. The pancreas is also specifically affected and insulin production is impacted, which is specifically dangerous for those at risk of diabetes or who already have the disease.

3) Fractionation


An alternative process, also intended to reduce the creation of trans-fats is called fractionation. During this process the fat, such as palm oil is heated and separated into two different ‘fractions’. One has a higher melting point than the other. The fat with the higher melting point is more stable and therefore more desired by the industry and added to many baked goods.

The process of heating the fats destroys almost all the nutritional content including anti-oxidant qualities and vitamin E.  Specific health concerns about the fats produced in this process have not yet been raised, but it is likely that the heating of the oils and industrialized processing could be generating more unnatural fats.  Consumers must decide if consuming fats produced by this process is worth the risk.

The Future of Fat

Saturated fat got a lot of bad press but the negative propaganda only told half of the story.  If you have elevated blood sugar due to diabetes or a diet high in refined and processed foods, saturated fats can cause problems. Chronic inflammation caused by eating processed foods damages blood vessel walls. The body attempts to repair the damage using ‘good’ cholesterol as a patch, kind of like a Band-Aid.

This ‘sticky’ cholesterol has a tendency to accumulate saturated fats and can form a blockage. Although it is saturated fats which create the blockage, the underlying problem is the chronic inflammation and arterial damage caused by the processed foods, in particular sugar.

However, if you eat a diet rich in natural ingredients and avoid the processed junk, then saturated fats are fine. Even those that got a bad press in the past such as butter or even animal dripping are relatively harmless, especially when compared to processed food. Additionally much of the clinical data which showed problems with saturated fats was contaminated with ‘trans’ fats so cannot be relied upon.

If, like many people, you have completely lost faith in the food industry, and its regulators, how do you ensure that what you eat doesn’t impact your health? Simple, eat natural food.  Avoid food which has had lots of processing, is packed full of ingredients you don’t understand and has a long shelf life. Nature packed fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds with all the ingredients to keep us healthy.  It is only when we mess about with profit making industrialized processing that dangers are introduced. Butter is great for spreading and is much healthier than you have been led to believe and coconut oil is excellent for high temperature cooking. Stay safe, eat natural!

Now that you have learned about the 3 Processed Fats to Watch Out, you might want to find out the 4 foods to never eat for breakfast.. Go to the next page to access the research on the 4 foods to never eat for breakfast.


About the Author:

Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.

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24 responses to “3 Processed Fats to Watch Out”

  1. Richard Grimes Avatar

    Howdy folks,
    You say that evolution equipped our brains with a desire to consume fat… Well if you look at all the organs in the human body and all the tubes that carry the blood from the heart throughout the body and then back to the heart… Each organ works harmoniously with other organs, each dependent on the other organs… This was purposely designed by the only true God_ Yahweh… You see if you just consider that evolution is only by chance and nothing can happen so perfectly accident… Look around you where you are at this moment_ everything you see had a designer and a maker/builder… Look at every thing in nature_ it is so perfect that it to had to have a designer and maker…

    Thank you for letting me share the TRUTH about all living life…

    Richard Grimes

    1. Harobed Avatar

      Yahweh?? Let it go, this is an article on the human body and how these man-made fats cause health problems. Must people bring THEIR beliefs into everything? SMH

      1. steve rodgers Avatar
        steve rodgers

        Let what go? The amazing fact that a Designer “designed” this awesome body of ours!

    2. Skye Avatar

      This has NOTHING to do with this article, go post elsewhere.

  2. Miriam Nance Avatar
    Miriam Nance

    It’s always good to know what ingredients can be harmful to these temporal bodies that we live in! We must do our part to keep it healthy! Thank you diet-sage.com for keeping us informed of the dangers that can lead to an early death! In regards to that evolution statement I gave thumbs up to Richard Grimes because he’s being true to who He represents! So important for people to know the whole truth for this life and the next. We all will continue to live after the death of our bodies! ELOHIM the creator God wants us to have a prosperous life

    1. Skye Avatar

      who he represents has NOTHING to do with this article

      1. Dave Avatar

        Your replies have nothing to do with the article. You just feel you must reply to anyone promoting God the same way he feels he must bless God.

  3. Belinda Hunter Avatar
    Belinda Hunter

    Praise the LORD! From what I understand, we can’t have one without the other. GOD created everything and that includes; the Heavens, the earth, the oceans and everything in them!!!!!!! And that includes human life- we sure didn’t create ourselves, amen!!! So, I agree with how our bodies work and that GOD provided the food for our bodies as it is, thank You LORD, amen!!! I also thank all of you who share the same belief. The sooner the whole realizes this, then everything could work in all of our favor! GOD bless all those who simply read their Bibles to keep in the know, now.

    1. Skye Avatar

      This has NOTHING to do with this article, go post elsewhere.

  4. Nancy Avatar

    I’m so tired of spending so much time reading labels on food prducts and well as How my meats are tampered with through chemicals.
    I have reduced as many foods as I possibly can. I resent the time spent reading and looking up labels and what they might have added to the products that are truly harmful to the population.
    I also watch people and what they have in their shopping Carts. Many many low income families are buying what they can afford and the products that are so very harmful.
    I would wager to bet that those that are in higher income incomes don’t eat those unhealthy products. Sadly most of us can’t afford stores like whole foods. I know we can’t on social security incomes. Our meals are as healthy as we can get.
    We do grow some of our foods. If we had more space we could add more home grown foods. It all boile down to money and for that matter most healthy things in our culture are are geared towards the high income people wit threat shopping at places like Walmart which are looked at by many as ghetto stores. We do need a community garden for sure. I gre up on a farm. I have no problem tending a garden. I grew up working a garden. Ok I’m off my soap box. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. Many may not agree and that’s ok. We can agree to disagree and still be civil to other that have a different opinion. Have a great day unless you’ve made other plans.

    1. Holly Randle Avatar
      Holly Randle

      I too tended gardens while in my parents home and at my first home. I agree, growing our own, but with seeds that have not been radiated or modified, is the best way to go. Just wish there was land offered nearby to grow city gardens. Young people need to learn how to grow their food and respect the land.


    Thank you for exposing what these man made changes in food production can do to humans. My question is this: Where is the Food and Drug Administration and why are they NOT allowing these gigantic food corporations to make these changes in the foods produced??? Isn’t that what their job is and what they are paid for to keep our foods as healthy as possible for consumption??? The public needs to place pressure on the FDA to do their job so everyone can stay as healthy as they can. Just a thought for others to think about.

    1. dawn Avatar

      I agree, where is the FDA’s allegience? the FDA is bought and paid for by the corporations even though we pay with our hard earned tax dollars, it’s as if we ‘the people’ don’t matter anymore. the only greens they want to grow are $$$$’s.

  6. Char rausch Avatar
    Char rausch

    The only way to become educated was thru some kind of religion, hence that is why the church existed. It was not until the twelfth century that education became commonplace.

    God is not responsible for any of this. Look up most scientists and you will discover they are atheists. God has nothing to do with your health!

    1. Judy Avatar

      God started this thing called life….hence, he has EVERYTHING to do with health. He made natural food. About the atheists, they won’t be atheists when they get to hell, they will be BELIEVERS, but sad to say…Too late

      1. Skye Avatar

        This has NOTHING to do with this article, go post elsewhere.

    2. Mary Beth Avatar
      Mary Beth

      God has very much to do with our health! I feel bad that you are so uninformed! I will pray for you.

      1. Skye Avatar

        This has NOTHING to do with this article though, stop preaching and go post elsewhere.

    3. Marion Grima Avatar

      I don’t agree, God is in everything if we only prayed more and took things in moderation we would be better off.
      The trouble is we tend to over eat all the new things that come out. Look back at how and what people USED to eat.

  7. Janet Scott-B Avatar
    Janet Scott-B

    I am so grateful for these important information…I came from a background of healthy eating..my mom said we should only eat what grows on a tree, vine or dug from the earth…any thing else is likely to compromise our health..well modernization has certainly changed our taste buds and we are also being being bombarded by ads that play on our psyche.. But we must learn the truth and examine what is being sold or said to us..I enjoy the comments.

  8. B Avatar

    My question is if these things are proven bad for us why are they in our food???
    And then when we learn more about why they are bad then the people using them in their products try to down play the risks or hide them by changing the names. I am really getting frustrated with this. What does the fda do anyway???

  9. Murtaza Khandvawala Avatar

    I would like to go for your Nutrition Programe. Please let me have the detaiails. Thanks Murtaza

  10. Emily Scott Avatar
    Emily Scott

    you don’t have to be rich to eat clean, pure, nourishing food. Shop WFM on sales. Also go to farmers mkts. all over the country. Grow your own herbs. It is the fancy packaged products that cost way too much. Keep eating organics and eventually it will be the rule and cost less than now. “Organic” is almost a problem title. I like real or clean better.

  11. Emily Scott Avatar
    Emily Scott

    very disappointed at how many of you got into arguments so easily. ego, ego, ego. The article is excellent and we must pay attention to it every day. By the way, stop picking on atheists. They are good people who do not do harm and probably many are natural food eaters. They , quite impressively, think that we humans are responsible for the care of the earth and it is humans job to run things better and not place the blame for sickness or war on other things, but to accept that we humans are mostly responsible for what we endure or enjoy.

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