Vegetable Oil vs Trans Fats

I recently updated and republished my article from 2018 on vegetable oil here on ingfit.ae, which answers all of the basic and practical questions about these oils. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a great place to start before this one.

10-May 2020, by Bronwyn MacRitchie

Worth A Deeper Dive

However, while that piece is a useful overview, this message is of critical importance to our health, the health of our families, and the health of the UAE as a whole. This is why I decided to revisit it in relation to the trans-fat story which has recently made news here in the UAE again.

Trans Fats in the UAE

The UAE has made the decision to ban trans fats by 2023, however there is a push by the FNC to bring this forward as a matter of urgency. This is EXTREMELY positive, and the UAE is joining only a handful of countries making this vital choice. In so doing, the UAE is placing the health of their citizens and residents before the commercial impact many other countries are choosing to prioritize.

However, this change will unfortunately still leave the aisles of silent killers on the shelves of every supermarket. The problem with mainstream legislation the world over is the amount of time it takes to officially declare a food harmful, and the impact on industry and trade when it does.

The Trans Fat Story

Let’s look first at the case of trans fats.

A trans-fat is a fat which has had hydrogen forced into it to make It shelf stable, and more solid than the natural liquid state of these oils. This is how vegetable oil spreads, vegetable ghee, margarine and shortening are made. And it’s still used in a WIDE array of products, mostly baked good and pastries, coffee creamers, cookies and confectionary and chips and savoury snacks. Partially hydrogenated oil is a very popular choice in the UAE to roast nuts in, so please check ingredients before buying!  

Five years ago evidence was strong that trans fat had deleterious impacts on blood lipids; ensuing studies have confirmed these metabolic findings and strengthened epidemiologic support for an important adverse effect on risk of coronary heart disease.’ (1)

This extract is taken from a Harvard University paper published in 1999, decrying the US government’s failure to highlight the fact that a food contains trans fats on food labels, not even to remove it. Noting that evidence of how these fats damage our bodies was strong enough in 1994!

However, it still took the US government until 2003 before they actually implemented the requirement of listing the amount of trans fat on the label.

It took them until 2015 to declare trans fats dangerous for human consumption and begin to remove them from the food supply, and until 1 January 2020 to have them completely removed.

That’s 16 years from the government first acknowledging that these fats were harming the public’s health. 16 years of people continuing to eat these fats in large amounts, damaging their bodies, and feeding heart disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic inflammation. However, studies showing harmful effects of trans fats had already been around since the 1980s (2,3,4).

So, each of us would have become aware of this information at different times. Some of us may have stopped eating trans fats in their many forms years ago, some of us may have only realized their impact a year or two ago… in fact some of us may only be learning this now.

If we rely only on mainstream institutions to control the food supply for our highest health, we may continue to perpetuate the trans fat story.

The story that had us consuming harmful foods for more than 30 years! Perhaps in some cases even succumbing to the damage they have done to our bodies on a cellular level, some of us may even have lost loved ones as a result of this. And all the while we trusted that if these foods were indeed as dangerous as they are they would not be included in the food supply.

At ingfit we are not ok with that, and each of us take the time to stay on top of the cutting edge science on various ingredients for our own personal health, and that of our families. We now consider each of our customers as an extended part of that family, and so we apply the same level of stringency to every product on our store.

However we KNOW you aren't just shopping on our store which is why we want you to be empowered with this knowledge to share it with all your loved ones no matter where they are in the world.

Our personal diet and lifestyle choices are DIRECTLY fighting disease or feeding it every day, and in the case of vegetable oil the evidence is glaringly clear. There is no longer a question mark over those golden aisles in the supermarket, but a big, red line straight through them.

Let's Take a Closer Look at the Vegetable Oil Story

Now… we come to vegetable oils. Those very same oils that manufacturers were hydrogenating to increase their stability against oxidization are now being offered (in their unstable form) as the answer to trans fats. And we are accepting them.

People took a while to warm to their inclusion into the food system in the late 1800s early 1900s. The suggestion that they should be consumed by humans seemed counterintuitive since these oils were (and still are) used in engines, soap making and machinery.

However, with the spread of media, the growth of advertising and a sprinkle of the panic about saturated fats in the 1950s onward, the public were easily convinced that the butter and lard they had been consuming for hundreds of years were somehow causing this modern phenomena of heart disease, and they should be including these industrial oils as a matter of critical health concern.

However, the rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, autoimmunity and other metabolic conditions increased rapidly, despite the public’s move away from saturated fats and towards polyunsaturated industrial oils (PUFAS).

These oils (sunflower, corn, grapeseed, rapeseed, soybean, canola) are extremely volatile. They are exceptionally high in polyunsaturated fat and especially linoleic acid which has an autooxidisation rate 77 times higher than monounsaturated fats (5).

Oxidisation is the first step in the rancidity process, and it is during this process that harmful compounds such as a long list of cytotoxic aldehydes, peroxide and other damaging compounds are formed in the oils. These compounds are then ingested and are readily metabolized by our bodies, allowing them to impact a variety of tissues and processes throughout our bodies.

But, no one is making a noise about this. In fact, the WHO dietary recommendations for HEALTH in Covid 19 includes canola oil and sunflower oil and excludes healthy saturated fats such as butter, coconut oil and ghee!

This in a pandemic that is specifically more lethal to metabolically damaged people. Surely the line has to be drawn somewhere. Surely the WHO has the same access to journal publications that we do. Saturated fats have long been exonerated from the misinformation around them. And we are slowly wising up to the problems with vegetable oils. A brief snapshot of the science shows that it is SCREAMING for attention.

Is it really going to be another 30 years of skyrocketing heart disease, cancer, obesity, chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease before someone listens?

I’m going to let the science speak for itself. Then YOU can decide whether it’s worth listening or not.

A Snapshot of the Science on Vegetable Oils

1960 -

‘The toxicity of air-oxidized soybean oil to weanling rats was investigated… growth studies demonstrated that the concentration of the toxic principle corresponded closely to the peroxide concentration of the oil and gave generally negative findings.(6)’

1981 -

‘Since even practical processing and frying conditions can produce some nutritionally undesirable products, a concerted effort should be made to minimize substantial accumulation of these in our dietary fats.(7)’

1982 -

‘The non-enzymic autoxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids is known to be accompanied by the formation of a complex mixture of products including aldehydes such as alkanals, alk-2-enals, 4- hydroxyalkenals and malonaldehyde…(8)’

1993 -

‘Chronic uptake of large amounts of such materials increases tumor frequency and incidence of atherosclerosis in animals. 4-Hydroxynonenal, a chain-cleavage product resulting from ω6 fatty acids, disturbs gap-junction communications in cultured endothelial cells and induces several genotoxic effects in hepatocytes and lymphocytes. Although the concentrations of the aldehyde needed to produce these effects are in the range expected to occur in vivo, their pathological significance is far from clear. Recent findings strongly suggest that in vivo modification of low-density lipoprotein by certain lipid-peroxidation products (eg, 4-hydroxynonenal and malonaldehyde) renders this lipoprotein more atherogenic and causes foam-cell formation. Proteins modified by 4-hydroxynonenal and malonaldehyde were detected by immunological techniques in atherosclerotic lesions.(9)’

1994 -

‘create arange of aldehydes (predominantly n-alkanals, truns-Zalkenals, alka-2,4- dienals, 4-hydroxy-truns-2-alkenals and malondialdehyde) which have the capacity to exert a range of toxicological effects in view of their high reactivity with critical biomolecules in vivo…Corn (maize) oil (containing 57% (w/w) polyunsaturates, 30% (w/w) monounsaturates and 13% (w/w) saturates), sunflower seed oil (64% (w/w) polyunsaturates, 22% (w/w) monounsaturates, 14% (w/w) saturates and an unspecified concentration of added a-tocopherol), soyabean oil (52% (w/w) polyunsaturates, 21% (w/w) monounsaturates and 13% (w/w) saturates), rapeseed oil (31% (w/w) polyunsaturates, 59% (w/w) monounsaturates and 6% (w/w) saturates), groundnut (peanut) oil (34% (w/w) polyunsaturates, 45% (w/w) monounsaturates and 21% (w/w) saturates), grapeseed oil (62% (w/w) polyunsaturates, 22% (w/w) monounsaturates and 11% (w/w) saturates…(10)’

1999 -

‘Subjection of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)‐rich culinary oils to standard frying episodes generates a range of lipid oxidation products (LOP), including saturated and α,β‐unsaturated aldehydes which arise from the thermally induced fragmentation of conjugated hydroperoxydiene precursors… such LOP are damaging to human health…(11)’

2001 -

‘Several types of diseases may be related to the exposure of humans to food- or air-borne breakdown products of heated oils including atherosclerosis, the forerunner to cardiovascular disease; inflammatory joint disease, including rheumatoid arthritis; pathogenic conditions of the digestive tract; mutagenicity and genotoxicity, properties that open signal carcinogenesis; and teratogenicity, the property of chemicals that leads to the development of birth defects…(12)’

2001 -

‘Lipid peroxidation, the oxidative deterioration of fatty acids through free radical mechanisms in the presence of oxygen, causes major chemical changes in oils and fats… . These products include various lipophilic aldehydes such as alkanals, alkenals, alkadienals, and hydroxyalkenals and are readily absorbed from the diet (1–3)

the formation of secondary lipid peroxidation products is greatly enhanced; thus, the potential for the formation of these toxic compounds is greater in highly unsaturated vegetable oils. (13)’

2002 -

‘Our data suggest that susceptibility to oxidation of lipoproteins in low antioxidant environments similar to dilute serum may be increased in the postprandial period following meals rich in heat-modified vegetable oils and unheated oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids… (14)’

2004 -

‘we conclude that canola oil is more susceptible to thermal oxidation and, therefore, emission of volatile compounds…(15)’

2010 -

‘exposure to acrolein or similarly reactive constituents of foods and pollutants could contribute to dyslipidemia and inflammatory changes in HDL, thereby chronically increasing CVD risk or acutely triggering clinical CVD events.(16)’

2011 -

‘These studies confirmed that acute acrolein exposure altered expression of hepatic genes involved with lipid synthesis and trafficking and APR, and thus, indicated a hepatic locus of acrolein-induced dyslipidemia and APR…(17)’

2018 -

‘Meanwhile, the subjects in the sunflower oil group had elevated oxidative stress as indicated by their lower vitamin C levels and higher rate of lipid peroxidation…(18)’

2018 -

‘In summary, numerous lines of evidence show that the omega-6 polyunsaturated fat linoleic acid promotes oxidative stress, oxidised LDL, chronic low-grade inflammation and atherosclerosis, and is likely a major dietary culprit for causing CHD, especially when consumed in the form of industrial seed oils commonly referred to as ‘vegetable oils’.(19)’

2019 -

‘Results show that sunflower oil led to a higher mitochondrial area, perimeter, and area:perimeter ratio, markers of swelling, and increased age. Sunflower oil also led to increased gene expression associated to biogenesis, oxidative stress, and apoptosis.(20)’

2020 -

‘Oxidative stress is known to promote cellular dysfunction by inducing DNA damage, protein modification and lipid peroxidation. The latter is the oxidative deterioration of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs)… In Alzheimer’s disease, Hydroxynonenal-adducts to neurofilaments were found and high levels of Hydroxynonenal were detected within amyloid β plaques and in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer’s disease [5,6]. In addition, Hydroxynonenal may trigger β cell apoptosis, induce glucose intolerance and develop type 2 diabetes [7]. A diet of junk food, overeating of vegetable oils…(21)’

2020 -

‘These results demonstrate that the testis is a target of dietary oils in morphological changes, even though the testicular function of sex hormone production appears not to be directly affected, probably due to a feedback regulation via gonadal hormones in the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanisms underlying the influences of dietary oils on the patho-physiologic responses. Such an effort would certainly lead to the proposal of more accurate dietary recommendations on the choice of fats and oils, and thus that effort is scientifically and nutritionally warranted.(22)’

Where do we draw the line?

The above is a BRIEF snapshot of the research. These oils have more directly harmful effects on our cells than sugar, but they are still being recommended for inclusion in our diets.

We HAVE to take our health into our own hands, sit up and take note. Conditions and diseases such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmunity, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, hormone imbalances, dementia, the list continues, often have genetic factors involved.

This does not mean we must resign ourselves to a predetermined genetic fate. Much of the way our genes express is well within our control, if we realise this, sit up and take responsibility for our own health, we can save ourselves and our loved ones from suffering in the future.

Our personal diet and lifestyle choices are DIRECTLY fighting disease or feeding it every day, and in the case of vegetable oil the evidence is glaringly clear. There is no longer a question mark over those golden aisles in the supermarket, but a big, red line straight through them.

With the plethora of information available to us today, we can no longer with clear conscience continue to eat these foods for years and then be surprised when we are given a diagnosis that many of us live in fear of.

I strongly urge you to share this information widely, take the time to talk to family members about it, and remove these oils from your homes at once.

Check Those Ingredients Lists

But don’t stop there. CAREFULLY check ingredients lists for these oils (be especially mindful of mayonnaise and nuts), as they are FREQUENTLY included in foods. Even in the health food section. Even in health food STORES. Even in products marked organic. It simply doesn’t matter how organic one of these oils is, the effects remain the same. Even in products marked ‘healthy for kids.’

If you eat out frequently try to choose restaurants that use oils from the short approved list, such as The Coffee Club and Bateel. Ask for your meat to be cooked in butter and be mindful of salad dressing ingredients.

Our vision at ingfit is a society where the health of the nation is aligned with the extraordinary progress the country has made in other fields. Where people live free of the plague of metabolic diseases through valuing the importance of living an active, mindful life and choosing a diet comprising high quality whole-foods instead of medication.

We are deeply committed to bringing this vision closer to reality and as a part of this have begun the process of checking the fats and oils used in restaurants and food preparation businesses. Look out for the ‘ingfit approved’ logo coming soon to food services where we have carefully checked all oils (and other harmful ingredients) used in every step of the process for you.

The only person who can take responsibility for choosing to stop feeding disease and begin to fight it with the foods you select is you.

If nothing else, the pandemic of Covid-19 has taught us that taking care of our metabolic health is something we need to begin today. Leaving our immune systems to slowly degrade in the presence of these harmful foods is a matter of life and death when it comes to our chances of fighting whichever new pathogens we may face in the coming years too. .

References

  1. Ascherio, A., Katan, M. B., Zock, P. L., Stampfer, M. J., & Willett, W. C. (1999). Trans fatty acids and coronary heart disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 340, 1994-1998.
  2. Booyens, J., Louwrens, C. C., & Katzeff, I. E. (1988). The role of unnatural dietary trans and cis unsaturated fatty acids in the epidemiology of coronary artery disease. Medical hypotheses, 25(3), 175-182.
  3. Heckers, H., Melcher, F. W., Kamenisch, W., & Henneking, K. (1988). Chemically prepared fats and Crohn disease. A pilot study of the occurrence of trans-fatty acids in the subcutaneous tissue of Crohn patients in comparison with healthy controls as a parameter of long-term fat intake. Zeitschrift fur Gastroenterologie, 26(5), 259-264.
  4. Alexander, J. C. (1981). Chemical and biological properties related to toxicity of heated fats. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A Current Issues, 7(1), 125-138.
  5. Fullana, A., Carbonell-Barrachina, A. A., & Sidhu, S. (2004). Comparison of volatile aldehydes present in the cooking fumes of extra virgin olive, olive, and canola oils. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52(16), 5207-5214.
  6. Andrews, J. S., Griffith, W. H., Mead, J. F., & Stein, R. A. (1960). Toxicity of air-oxidized soybean oil. The Journal of nutrition, 70(2), 199-210.
  7. Alexander, J. C. (1981). Chemical and biological properties related to toxicity of heated fats. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A Current Issues, 7(1), 125-138.
  8. Esterbauer, H., Cheeseman, K. H., Dianzani, M. U., Poli, G., & Slater, T. F. (1982). Separation and characterization of the aldehydic products of lipid peroxidation stimulated by ADP-Fe2+ in rat liver microsomes. Biochemical Journal, 208(1), 129-140.
  9. Esterbauer, H. (1993). Cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of lipid-oxidation products. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 57(5), 779S-786S.
  10. Claxson, A. W., Hawkes, G. E., Richardson, D. P., Naughton, D. P., Haywood, R. M., Chander, C. L., ... & Grootveld, M. C. (1994). Generation of lipid peroxidation products in culinary oils and fats during episodes of thermal stressing: a high field 1H NMR study. FEBS letters, 355(1), 81-90.
  11. Silwood, C. J., & Grootveld, M. (1999). Application of high-resolution, two-dimensional 1 H and 13 C nuclear magnetic resonance techniques to the characterization of lipid oxidation products in autoxidized linoleoyl/linolenoylglycerols. Lipids, 34(7), 741.
  12. Grootveld, M., Silwood, C. J., Addis, P., Claxson, A., Serra, B. B., & Viana, M. (2001). HEALTH EFFECTS OF OXIDIZED HEATED OILS 1. Foodservice Research International, 13(1), 41-55.
  13. Seppanen, C. M., & Csallany, A. S. (2001). Simultaneous determination of lipophilic aldehydes by high‐performance liquid chromatography in vegetable oil. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society, 78(12), 1253.
  14. Sutherland, W. H., de Jong, S. A., Walker, R. J., Williams, M. J., Skeaff, C. M., Duncan, A., & Harper, M. (2002). Effect of meals rich in heated olive and safflower oils on oxidation of postprandial serum in healthy men. Atherosclerosis, 160(1), 195-203.
  15. Fullana, A., Carbonell-Barrachina, A. A., & Sidhu, S. (2004). Comparison of volatile aldehydes present in the cooking fumes of extra virgin olive, olive, and canola oils. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52(16), 5207-5214.
  16. Conklin, D. J., Barski, O. A., Lesgards, J. F., Juvan, P., Rezen, T., Rozman, D., ... & Bhatnagar, A. (2010). Acrolein consumption induces systemic dyslipidemia and lipoprotein modification. Toxicology and applied pharmacology, 243(1), 1-12.
  17. Conklin, D. J., Prough, R. A., Juvan, P., Rezen, T., Rozman, D., Haberzettl, P., ... & Bhatnagar, A. (2011). Acrolein‐induced dyslipidemia and acute‐phase response are independent of HMG‐CoA reductase. Molecular nutrition & food research, 55(9), 1411-1422.
  18. Palazhy, S., Kamath, P., & Vasudevan, D. M. (2018). Dietary fats and oxidative stress: a cross-sectional study among coronary artery disease subjects consuming coconut oil/sunflower oil. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, 33(1), 69-74.
  19. DiNicolantonio, J. J., & O’Keefe, J. H. (2018). Omega-6 vegetable oils as a driver of coronary heart disease: the oxidized linoleic acid hypothesis. Open heart, 5(2), e000898.
  20. Navarro-Hortal, M. D., Varela-López, A., Romero-Márquez, J. M., Piquer-Martinez, C., Bullón, P., Forbes-Hernández, T. Y., & Quiles, J. L. (2019). Twenty-four Months Feeding on Unsaturated Dietary Fats (Virgin Olive, Sunflower, or Fish Oil) Differentially Modulate Gingival Mitochondria in the Rat. eFood.
  21. Yamashima, T., Boontem, P., Shimizu, H., Ota, T., & Kikuchi, M. (2020). Vegetable Oil-derived ‘Hydroxynonenal’Causes Diverse Cell Death Possibly Leading to Alzheimer’s and Related Lifestyle Diseases. J Alzheimers Dis Parkinsonism, 10(483), 2.
  22. Miyazawa, D., Ohara, N., Yamada, K., Yasui, Y., Kitamori, K., Saito, Y., ... & Miyashiro, Y. (2020). Dietary soybean oil, canola oil and partially-hydrogenated soybean oil affect testicular tissue and steroid hormone levels differently in the miniature pig. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 135, 110927.

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Bronwyn MacRitchie

Comments

Bronwyn MacRitchie

The article doesn’t go full stretch and list the “healthy” oils to consume.
It seems like it’s much easier to know what is authorized/good , instead of the long list of what is forbidden/bad.
Why don’t you explicitly draw the line – to quote you – and list the good oils/fats to use for a healthy diet?

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