• atherosclerotic: leading to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)

    HDL: high-density lipoprotein – cholesterol compounds that don’t deposit fat and may remove it

    LDL: low-density lipoprotein – cholesterol compounds that deposit fat on blood vessel walls

     

    When It Comes to Fats, These Are the Worst

    Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.


    You should already know about the harmful effects of diets heavy on the saturated fatty acids found in red meats, whole milk, butter, cheeses, and other animal foods. Saturated fatty acids raise blood levels of atherosclerotic LDL cholesterol. But of all the fats, trans fatty acids are the worst because they not only increase LDL cholesterol but also lower levels of protective HDL. Recent studies show that people with the highest intake of trans fats had a greater rate of heart attacks.

    Trans fatty acids have a different chemical structure than most of our dietary fats. About 25 percent of the trans fats in our diets come from natural sources, but most dietary trans fatty acids are formed during an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid oils containing unsaturated fats to make products that are solid at room temperature and have a longer shelf life. During hydrogenation, some of the unsaturated fatty acids are converted to trans fats.

    Trans fats are found in margarines and commercially prepared foods such as frozen dinners, chips, fried fast foods, crackers, and baked goods.

    Consider limiting or avoiding trans fats in your diet. You can choose tub margarines, which contain less trans fats and saturated fats than stick margarines. Also examine food labels: by January 1, 2006, all food manufacturers were required to list the amount of trans fats in each serving of their products. Some manufacturers have even taken this requirement as a hint to remove trans fats from their products.

     

    linoleic acid: fatty acid, responsible for  easy spoilage of soybean oil

    KFC to use no-trans-fat oil in chicken

    By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press

    KFC Corp. said Monday it will start using zero trans fat soybean oil for its Original Recipe and Extra Crispy fried chicken, Potato Wedges and other menu items. The news preceded the Board of Health's first public hearing Monday on a plan to make New York the first U.S. city to ban restaurants from serving food containing artificial trans fats. KFC's systemwide rollout is to be completed by April 2007, but the company said many of its approximately 5,500 restaurants already have switched to low linolenic soybean oil, replacing partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

    KFC President Gregg Dedrick said there would be no change in the taste of the chicken and other food items. "There is no compromise," he said at a Manhattan news conference. "Nothing is more important to us than the quality of our food and preserving the terrific taste of our product." Crispy Strips, Wings, Boneless Wings, Buffalo and Crispy Snacker Sandwiches, Popcorn Chicken and Twisters also are part of the menu change. "We've tested a wide variety of oils available and we're pleased we have found a way to keep our chicken finger lickin' good — but with zero grams of trans fat," Dedrick said. Some products including biscuits will still be made with trans fat while KFC keeps looking for alternatives, he said.

    The change applies only to U.S. restaurants for now, Dedrick said. He said the company was trying to find replacement oils for its overseas restaurants. He added that KFC outlets in some countries already use trans fat-free oils, but he would not say which countries.

    Artificial trans fat is so common that the average American eats 4.7 pounds of it a year, according to the Food and Drug Administration, yet so unhealthy, city health officials say it belongs in the same category as food spoiled by poor refrigeration or rodent droppings.

    The switch was applauded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which sued the Louisville, Ky.-based KFC in June over the trans fat content of its chicken.

    KFC isn't the only business preparing for a trans-fat-free future.

    Dow AgroScience, a maker of three types of zero-trans-fat canola and sunflower seed oils, said it has ramped up production capacity to 1.5 billion pounds a year — enough to replace about a third of the 5 billion pounds of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil sold annually in the U.S.

    Wendy's, the national burger chain, has already switched to a zero-trans fat oil. McDonald's had announced that it intended to do so as well in 2003, but has yet to follow through.

    If New York City approves banning food with artificial trans fats, it would only affect restaurants, not grocery stores, and wouldn't extend beyond the city's limits. But experts said the city's foodservice industry is so large, any change in its rules is likely to ripple nationwide.

    "It's huge. It's going to be the trendsetter for the entire country," said Suzanne Vieira, director of the culinary nutrition program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., where students are experimenting with substitute oils and shortenings.

    New York's thousands of independently owned restaurants are beginning to look for ways to make changes too — not all happily. Richard Lipsky, a spokesman for the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, said many eatery owners rely on ingredients prepared elsewhere, and aren't always aware whether the foods they sell contain trans fats.

    Invented in the early 1900s, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil was initially believed to be a healthy substitute for natural fats like butter or lard. It was also cheaper, performed better under high heat and had a longer shelf life. Today, the oil is used as a shortening in baked goods like cookies, crackers and doughnuts, as well as in deep-frying. Ironically, many big fast food companies only became dependent on hydrogenated oil a decade and a half ago when they were pressured by health groups to do something about saturated fat.

    McDonald's emptied its french fryers of beef tallow in 1990 and filled them with what was then thought to be "heart healthy" partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. "They did so in all innocence, trying to do the right thing," said Jacobson, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Everybody thought it was safe. We thought it was safe."

    Some restaurants were still completing the changeover when the first major study appeared indicating that the hydrogenated oils were just as bad for you, if not worse.  When eaten, trans fats significantly raise the level of so-called "bad" cholesterol in the blood, clogging arteries and causing heart disease. Researchers at Harvard's School of Public Health estimated that trans fats contribute to 30,000 U.S. deaths a year.

    "This is something we'd like to dismiss from our food supply," said Dr. Robert H. Eckel, immediate past president of the American Heart Association.