Companies Swapping Trans Fats for a Different, but Also Dangerous, Fat

When it comes to the increasing public awareness about the dangers of trans fats, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news: more and more cities are considering bans on toxic trans fats, and increasing numbers of food companies are taking these health-harming fats out of their products.

The bad news? Some of these companies may be trading one disaster for another. A study has found that a new method of modifying fat in commercial products to replace trans fats raises blood glucose and depresses insulin, both precursors to diabetes. Meanwhile, like trans fat, the new fat also lowers good “HDL” cholesterol.

The modified fat, called interesterified fat, is fast becoming the method of choice for food manufacturers to replace trans fats because it still allows for longer shelf lives in the foods. Interesterified fat is a modified fat that includes hydrogenation followed by rearrangements of fats molecules by the process called interesterification.

This process unnaturally rearranges the position of individual fatty acids on the fat molecule, and can alter metabolism in humans. In the study, unmodified saturated fat, which has unfairly gotten a bad rap all along, was not associated with negative effects.

If you want to avoid dangerous fats of all kinds, your best option is still to avoid processed foods, even those with no trans fats, and opt for healthy fat sources from whole foods, according to your nutritional type.

Nutrition & Metabolism January 15, 2007, 4:3 

Science Daily January 18, 2007