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Hydrogenated Fats: Unsaturated to Saturated

Posted Sep 14 2009 10:10pm

Guess what? Fat does not make you fat! How confused are you right now? Well, it is true, natural fats are essential and when you are receiving them in the right ratios for your body it is IMPOSSIBLE for fats that mother nature intended for you, to make you fat!

If you take a look at the American diet this is overwhelmingly apparent, as most people are terrified and will get highly defensive, around the idea of recommending an increase in their dietary fats.  However, even with this brainwashed fear of fat, over 60% of Americans are considered morbidly obese and diabetes, heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death! So what exactly could be going wrong?

Quality….we have forgotten the importance of the quality of the foods we are consuming, while price and convenience have taken priority! The cause of heart disease is not animal fats and cholesterol but rather a number of factors inherent in modern diets, including excess consumption of vegetables oils and hydrogenated fats.  It is important to understand that, of all substances ingested by the body, it is polyunsaturated oils that are most easily rendered dangerous by food processing, especially unstable omega-3 linolenic acid.

Cis formation to Trans formation?

Before hydrogenation, pairs of hydrogen atoms occur together on the chain, causing the chain to bend slightly and creating a concentration of electrons at the site of the double bond. This is called the cis formation, the configuration most commonly found in nature. With hydrogenation, one hydrogen atom of the pair is moved to the other side so that the molecule straightens. This is called the trans formation, rarely found in nature. Most of these man-made trans fats are toxins to the body, but unfortunately your digestive system does not recognize them as such. Instead of being eliminated, trans fats are incorporated into cell membranes as if they were cis fats-your cells actually become partially hydrogenated! Once in place, trans fatty acids with their misplaced hydrogen atoms wreak havoc in cell metabolism because chemical reactions can only take place when electrons in the cell membranes are in certain arrangements or patterns, which the hydrogenation process has disturbed.

In addition, trans fatty acids tend to accumulate in the cells walls where they pack more tightly than the normal cis-polyunsaturated fatty acids. When you have too many of the wrong fatty acids in your tissues cell walls the cell walls become “stiff” and the rapid movement of lipids in the cell wall is slowed .

When this happens in red blood cells the red blood cells become less able to transport and delivery oxygen to your cells, further this can damage the tissue of the kidneys resulting in hypertension as hypertension is the first indication of kidney disease and metabolic syndrome.

There are several other elements associated with metabolic syndromes caused by an abundance of trans fatty acids built up in the tissues of your cells. Trans fatty acids block insulin receptors, necessary to transport glucose into your cells. When there are less insulin receptors, your cells starve for the glucose molecules they need to function properly, forcing the cells to demand more insulin.

This will occur until your insulin producing system “burns out”leaving you and your cells hungry and tired and insulin resistant (type2 diabetes)! Along with the failure of insulin receptors comes a failure for other hormone receptors, thyroid receptors and sex hormone receptors to regenerate themselves, leading to central adiposity (tummy fat) and are other common elements of metabolic syndrome.

In conclusion, it is not difficult to avoid hydrogenated trans fats.  Reading labels will help you in identifying where these fats are lurking.  By choosing items that are not processed and eating fats that are in there whole forms is an easy way to be sure you are eliminating these carcinogenic substances from your diet.  Restaurants are by far the weakest link of the trans fat battle as trans fats do not break down as easily as cis fats do in deep frying and margarine is cheaper than butter.

Its likely that it wasn’t the super sizing of portions that has caused the troubling obesity in our population but more likely the metabolic changes induced by trans fats.

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