Monthly Archives: September 2007

Interesterified Fats: A New Form of Fat Poison

Interesterified Fats: A New Form of Fat Poison

Competency # 13 Fats

Reference: Sundram et al, Nutrition & Metabolism 2007, 4:16 (12 July 2007) (Web site for monkey research on trans fats)

Interesterified?  That should be something to do with ”interested” and “terrified”.  We should be some of both.  Instead of just being “partially” hydrogenated, the chemical reaction in this fat is to add a saturated fat into the polyunsaturated position of the chemical backbone (  Lo and behold, you don’t have to call it a “trans fat”.  Yippee.  You can dodge the FDAs requirement to label your food with the dreaded  trans fat label.  And you can come up with another fat family that is nice and creamy, makes your French fries crispy, and allows you to put banner headlines out there: “NO TRANS FATS”.

Trans fats are known dietary poisons.  I use the word poison with intent, as they have the opposite effect of medicines. As Americans we take statin drugs by the truckload to make our blood cholesterols better.  Then, we find that trans fats make our blood cholesterol go backwards and get worse, sort of a break-even deal.  Trans fats make your LDLs higher and your HDLs lower.  So, we are focused on getting rid of trans fats.  Unfortunately, we haven’t focused on the choice of eating “better fat” foods.   The food industry has responded with a secret chemistry lesson, and added an “inter” group instead of adding hydrogen to the formally “unsaturated” double bond in the fatty acid.  You end up with an “interesterified” fat, a new form of “Fat Poison”?  Only this time, you are the lab rat.

And we should be terrified.  This new fat, creamy and delicious, was fed to volunteers in a rotating diet that had trans fats and regular fats in it.  The study showed that, sure enough, trans fats do lousy things for your HDLs and LDLs.  What they didn’t expect to find was the glucose effect of the interesterifed fats.  Their effect on LDLs and HDLs was not as great as trans fats.  That makes them a little better than trans fats for HDLs and LDLs. But, surprisingly, the interesterified fats knocked insulin levels down and boosted up blood glucose levels by 20%.  Within days!   Oh dear, just as we find a substitute for the wicked trans fat, our substitute is equally troubling with an added twist, it knocks your glucose metabolism off the couch.

A further study: released this last spring shows that monkeys, fed a diet with about 8% of calories from trans fats gained weight compared to monkeys fed the precise same diet and amount of calories.   The control monkeys only gained 1.8% weight.  Trans fats make monkeys gain weight on equivalent calories.  And they gained it right around their middles, just like us humans.  Can you imagine an apple shaped chimpanzee or bonobo?  The visual!  Now we know how to make one.  This wasn’t a human study but it adds weight gain to the long list of problems with trans fats.  It suggests that we humans get fatter by eating trans fats rather than ordinary fats.

WWW:  What Will Work for Me?  I just have to read the label.  I’m learning to pay attention.  Look at your label.  If it says, “partially hydrogenated”, that’s code for trans fat.  If it says, “fully hydrogenated”, that’s code for interesterified.  Don’t buy it.  We don’t have certain proof, but I would get worried.  It’ll take 10 years to get certain proof.  I’m working with less time than that.  My personal metabolic syndrome is tip-toeing on the edge of getting better or worse.  Making these changes might tip me in the right way.  It appears that the three key ingredients of French cooking are what we should be using:  butter, butter, and more butter.  Or ghee, or lard, or olive, or sesame, or peanut.  Natural fats.  They haven’t been chemically changed.  Mother Nature may just be right.   Now, a splash of natural wine?

Infectious Obesity?

Infectious Obesity?

Competency # 1- “Your size is a terrible thing to waist”

Reference: . NEJM July 26, 2007.

Obesity contagious? That can’t be true, can it? Sorry for the bad news, but yes, obesity can be passed from one person to another. Not in the same way as a cold virus, but pretty close.  Three people sent me this article to share around so it’s obviously hitting a nerve.  It’s all over the news too.

The New England Journal of Medicine has just published a study showing that your personal risk of becoming obese increases by an average of 57% if you have a relationship with someone who becomes obese. These results were obtained through a sub-study of the Framingham Heart Study. Over 12,000 people were included in the group of subjects who had regular check-ins over 32 years starting in 1948.  Measurements for BMI, a very reliable value when observing large populations, were obtained at each assessment. The end result showed that those who had a close relationship with someone who became obese over this time period were at great risk of gaining weight as well.

It didn’t matter if the relationship was with a sibling, friend, or spouse.  The risk was still eminent. Between “mutual” friends, the risk of becoming obese jumped 171% if one of the friends became obese. The more friends you have who are overweight, the higher your risk of “catching the bug”.  Let’s spell that out, ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY ONE PERCENT with multiple mutual friends! This is the power of moral support, peer pressure, and social pressure, environment. We live in a world where we want to accept everything, be politically correct and non-offensive to other people.  Food, our venue for social interaction becomes our downfall.

The article suggests that when a friend becomes obese, the other friend adopts the same eating behaviors that brought about the obesity. How can that happen?  Often instead of confronting a new unhealthy habit in a friend, it is tolerated to the point of being adopted.  “Oh come on, have one”, we say. Gradually, the actions are continued by both friends leading to mutual acceptance of overeating. This process is called social imitation. Much like peer pressure to fit in when we were young, you subconsciously want to do what others do. But like the old saying says, if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?

Does this mean you need to avoid anyone that is obese and cut all ties to those that are? NO, NO, NO! The key to avoiding weight gain in yourself is to recognize what is going on. If you notice that someone close to you is gaining weight, pay attention to what habits are changing. If you are out to dinner and they reach for the dessert menu, make an “I” statement.  “I just can’t do that.  That’s my 100 calorie win”.

Your waist size is a very touchy subject, but it is also very dangerous to sweep it under the rug. Friends are supposed to look out for each other.  Can you think of tactful and non-abrasive ways to change bad habits in the people close to you.   Think of your modeling good behavior as a loving demonstration for those you care for.

WWW. What Will Work for mw? Well, I certainly don’t want to gain any weight! I’m going to ask for help from my wife (our house’s “Nutritional Gatekeeper” – AKA – grocery shopper).   I am requesting that she no longer buys ice cream.   “Buy peaches and apricots, honey.”   If ice cream is in the house, I will eat it.   On bridge night, where I eat compulsively, I’m serving fruit when it’s at my house.  Changing your environment to get one 100 calorie win a day results in 10 lbs of weight loss a year.   I wash my hands before dinner to avoid infectious diseases.  Can you wash your social behaviors of socially infectious germs too?