It seems that the scare and recent guidelines concerning trans fats have opened many peoples' eyes to this dangerous fat snuck into many foods found at the grocery store under the name of "partially hydrogenated oil". Being an ingredient label reader, I have eliminated these out of my diet -- and I can tell you that my overall being is much healthier -- I notice I am less fatigued and more alert. Many family members have said the same thing. (Recently I received boxes of food from a friend who was moving away. I threw out about 3/4 of the food due to the trans fat ingredient - wow! If you haven't already been informed, go to www.bantransfats.com)
But because of this partial ban on trans fats, the industry has turned to another fat to extend the shelf life of food: interesterified fat. Never heard of it? Neither have I until now, and thanks to OnFitness magazine, I am now watching for it on ingredient labels.
Perhaps you have heard of its disguise names:
-- stearic acid (found also in health supplements)
-- monodiglycerides (bye bye, Wheat Thins)
-- fully hydrogenated oil
What is interesterified fat? It is a processed fat that makes fat solid at room temperature by a rearrangement of the fat molecules.
What makes interesterified fat so dangerous? Because according to Nutrition and Metalbolism (Jan 2007), interesterified fat lowers good cholesterol while at the same time raises bad cholesterol. According to studies in Malaysia and with Brandeis University, it also raises glucose levels in the blood while decreasing insulin levels (more diabetes patients, please!)
Where will you find interesterified fat? Probably the same foods that we are currently praising for cutting out trans fats. More and more companies are catching on to this cheap fat with an extremely long shelf life, so you will find it more and more in the food you purchase at the store. The most popular hide-outs right now are peanut butter, tortillas, crackers and dressings. But without any regulation on this fat, this list is sure to grow. Watch your labels, and you'll be safe -- mostly. (Check out this label from Skippy Peanut Butter!)
Why "mostly"? Because - get this: - companies are not required to list this fat on their labels in the first place! If you really want to steer clear of this fat, ask the company itself if they use "interesterified fat". Or even better, eat raw and unprocessed foods.
What is going on in our food industry?!? Is it any coincidence that, although perhaps not intentioned, interesterified fats has "terrified" in its name?