Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hydrogenated Oils

The other day I asked Sean to explain hydrogenated oils to me. I got a tad lost and asked him to write it down for me in a way I could understand it. He sent me this. I love the way he explains things. I get it! Do you?

How Hydrogenated Foods Are Killing You

What are hydrogenated oils? This one substance can be seen in nearly every food item found in your local grocery store. They are found in just about every processed food, but especially in foods such as cakes, cookies, breads, pastries, etc. Once one starts looking, though, it will become quite apparent that they can show up in just about anything and some food items will just shock you. I will get into that later on. Before I get into how these oils are dangerous for human consumption let me explain, briefly, the history surrounding the process of hydrogenation.

The process of hydrogenation has been around for a long time. Its first patents were just after the turn of the twentieth century around 1911. It was after a gentleman extracted the oils from cottonseed and hydrogenated it to form a solid block. This substance was shown to Proctor and Gamble and they loved it. They called it Crisco and put it on the market immediately. Crisco is short for crystallized cottonseed by the way. This stuff was supposed to replace lard and various other animal-fat based products on the market. What happened?

People hated it. They were not using it so Proctor and Gamble ended up giving the stuff away for free! This was the starting point for the public being introduced to hydrogenated food. 

How do hydrogenated oils hurt me? The answer lies in how they are created.  I say "created" because the process of hydrogenation creates something that is not a natural food product. This alone should be enough to stop a Twinkie from reaching your mouth.

To hydrogenate an oil such as cottonseed, sunflower, soybean, etc. they first extract the oil from the plant. This is usually done through some form of heating process or boiling. The oils are heated to about 400 degrees F and hydrogen gas is blasted into the solution. Next, a metallic catalyst is added such as aluminum, cobalt or nickel. Without these metals the process would not happen. The end goal to all of this is get more hydrogen into the fatty acids. The process is quite successful at doing this but at the expense of our health.

The fatty acids that are created are called “trans” fats acids because they have taken normal fatty acids and transformed them. The heat, metallic compounds and added hydrogen cause the fatty acid to take on a whole new shape. The problem with this is that the human body does not know how to deal with this substance. What does the body end up doing?

Before I get to what the body does with this crap, let me say something about fats for a moment. We have all been told at one point that “fat is bad.” So what do we do? Most people just dogmatically stay away from all types of fat. What happens to them? They usually still end up fat and unhealthy to boot. The key to understanding health is really very simple. Everything you eat becomes a part of you. Most people understand this concept theoretically, but in practice seem to think that you can eat a few less calories or maybe switch to “diet” foods and health will be on the way. Wrong!

Let me give a real crude but simple health lesson involving nutrition. All food can be broken down into three structural compounds: Carbohydrates (Sugars), Fats and Protein. Take a guess as to what the human body can be broken down to (excluding bone)…carbs, fats and proteins. During our day to day lives we are constantly building and breaking down our bodies. We need to build and repair this stuff and our repair shop is the refrigerator not our medicine cabinet. Remember that true health never came in the form of a prescription drug.

In our bodies, fats play an immensely important role. They help cells talk to one another, help create hormones, are the building blocks for nerve tissues, and are in the lining of every cell membrane. Why is this important? The way something functions in the body is heavily dependent on its structure or form. When you screw up the form you will mess up the function. That is what happens with “trans” fatty acids.

Because they were transformed into something totally new they do not function like they normally would. The body still integrates them into the body, but now the body is going to start having trouble. Cell membranes will not function properly. Nerve tissue will not work right. Hormones will be all messed up. The list goes on and on. The most detrimental side effect is that on the heart. Trans fats alter the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol levels. Without getting to complex, LDL is the bad one and HDL is the good one. LDL carries stuff to an area while HDL carries stuff away. Trans fats increase the LDL and decrease the HDL. The end result is plaques in the blood vessels especially in the heart and this leads to what we know as a “heart attack.”

Still not convinced? I don’t blame you, but take a gander at the statistics surrounding trans fats and hydrogenated foods since they were created. How many cases of Type II Diabetes were diagnosed before the year 1940? The answer is zero!! It did not exist. What also took place around this time? Hydrogenated foods were introduced into the food supply around this time on a nationwide scale. In 1900 heart disease was an old man’s disease and was essentially unknown. There were about 1000 cases of diagnosed heart disease in 1910. Compare that with 58.5 million cases diagnosed in 2005! That is a 5,850% increase. Diabetes has had roughly the same increase in incidence from 1940 to 2007 of about 5,800%.

The numbers speak for themselves folks. The correlation is almost too obvious, but nobody cares enough about their health to make a change. These substances prevail in the food supply because most people are too “busy” to do anything about it. Really? What is everyone so busy doing that they cannot take responsibility for their own health? The manufacturers are counting on you being either busy of lazy and not keeping them honest. These processed foods are cheaply made and deadly. Is your health really worth saving a dollar here or two dollars there? You may save money now, but you will pay for it in the long run. Stop eating this stuff and they will have to stop making it. The choice is yours.


I picked up four things today alone that have hydrogenated oils in them. Creepy stuff our bodies have become. Being a lab rat for the big corporations is no longer for me. I sincerely hope more people will make a switch. This garbage is only on the grocery store shelves b/c there's obviously some kind of demand for it.


Anonymous said...

LOVE it!!

jessica said...

what did you pick up? ... maybe would be helpful to lay out how they are hidden in the ingredient lists too :). Don't they have different names for some of this stuff?

Corey said...

I like Jessica's suggestion because, yeah, sometimes it's hard to tell what is what. They like to hide stuff on those ingredient lists! But seriously, just the fact that the process includes adding "METAL" kinda really freaks me out enough. Who wants to eat metal??
sometimes I sit back and think of all the things we just blindly do to ourselves as humans and we don't even know why. Like silly little sheep we are...He ate it! It must be OK! :D
I admit, there are still some processed foods in my house, but much MUCH less than there used to be. I've either stopped buying it or found substitutes for so many things. You really don't have to eat that crap.

samport said...

Thanks for the great responses and questions. I will definitely follow up with the questions and give some advice on how to avoid them as much as possible in the next posting. I have a lot of great information that I want to share. Tell your friends and families about this stuff. It might just save their lives.