Trans Fat Is (Almost) Out of Your Food. Here’s What’s Going In

Deena Shanker wrote . . . . . . .

Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the main source of artificial trans fat and an invisible mainstay of the American food industry for decades, are finally being pushed out in favor of healthier alternatives.

The change was a long time coming. Research showing the dangers of trans fat, which raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, solidified with a major study published in 1990 and got stronger with each successive round of research, forcing food makers to start looking for alternatives. From 2006 to 2008, according to one estimate, the amount of PHOs in food in North America was cut in half. By 2015, the Grocery Manufacturers Association said trans fat had been reduced by 85 percent. That year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that food makers had three years to completely remove the oils from their products.

PHOs come in many forms and serve a variety of hidden functions. They could be in the deep fryer at a national fast-food chain or in your favorite packaged baked goods—you know, the ones that tastes as fresh today as when they were purchased three years ago. They’ve shown up in creamers, cereal bars and microwave popcorn. Replacing them requires a mix of liquid oils and solid fats, along with collaboration among oil-producers, fast-food industry and packaged food producers.

Consumers likely won’t be able to tell the difference when they sample the new generation of PHO-free products. In fact, many have already been eating them for years. Nutritionally, all are an improvement over standard partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Producers tout their high content of “good fats,” (aka monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and low levels of “bad fats” (trans and saturated fats). Omega-9 fatty acids, or oleic acid, makes the oil both more stable and healthful. (The high oleic acid content of olive oil is one reason it is considered the gold standard of healthy oils.) Yet these oils fall short in at least one respect: Because all the new oils are liquid, baking with them requires the addition of other solid fats. In these cases, palm oil, an ingredient associated with negative environmental impacts, is often the solid fat of choice.

Non-GMO Omega-9 canola oil, from Dow Chemical Co.’s Dow AgroSciences LLC, has even lower levels of saturated fats than olive oil and about the same level of omega-9s. “This oil has the whole package,” said Dave Dzisiak, the global business leader of oils and grains at the company. The oil also has a cleaner, light taste, he said. It’s currently being used by major national and regional foodservice chains, as well as by snack makers, according to the company.

DuPont Co.’s DuPont Pioneer subsidiary makes similar claims about its trans-fat free oil, Plenish. Through genetic modification, the company lowered the amount of saturated fat in standard soybean oil by 20 percent and raised the omega-9 fatty acids to rival that of olive oil. Plenish is also currently being used in packaged goods, according to DuPont. It believes its soy oil holds a competitive advantage over canola because soy is so entrenched in the American diet. “There’s a pretty strong belief that the U.S. consumer in particular has developed a preference for soy,” said Russ Sanders, director of food at DuPont. “The flavor of the food comes through more than the flavor of the oil.”

Monsanto Co. is banking on the same preference as it prepares to launch its own soybean oil, Vistive Gold. Like its competitors, Vistive Gold has a high omega-9 count, low saturated fat content and better stability than standard soybean oil. It is also a product of genetic engineering. The company declined to name any specific customers, but a spokesperson said it has been working closely with the food industry to develop an oil producers will want to use.

At the moment, high-oleic canola oils are more popular, largely because they have been around in commercial quantities much longer than the new soybean oils, said Robert Collete, president of the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils. (High-oleic sunflower oils have also been available for some time in lower quantities.) But the soybean industry is fighting back, blending different oils to create Qualisoy, another high-oleic soybean oil, as a potential competitor.

The nutritional profile of the new soybean oils is also more favorable than that of the new canola oils, said J. Thomas Brenna, professor of Human Nutrition at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas-Austin. While omega-9 fatty acids are important, omega-3s and omega-6s—found in the aforementioned polyunsaturated fats—are as well, and they need to be in the right balance with each other. But, Brenna said, the omega-3s in the canola oil were reduced below an ideal level to make room for the omega-9s. That makes it less healthy than the soybean oils, which keep their polyunsaturated fat ratios more aligned with olive oil.

Of course, all of these options are still far better than the partially hydrogenated oils of yore. “That is bad stuff,” said Brenna.

For people hoping that the new, trans fat-free world means they can eat as many French fries and potato chips as they want, Keri Gans, a New York-based registered dietitian, has some bad news. “Just because a company has switched their oil to a healthier variety,” she said, “doesn’t mean the product becomes good for you.”

The old rules of diet still apply. “Watch the amount of French fries you eat,” Gans warned.

Source : Bloomberg


Roasted Chicken with Moroccan-style Marinade


4 to 4-1/2 lb chicken
2 small shallots
1 garlic clove
1 fresh parsley sprig
1 fresh coriander sprig
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 to 1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
about 3 tbsp butter
1/2 to 1 lemon (optional)
sprigs of fresh parsley or coriander to garnish


  1. Unless cooking it whole, cut the chicken in half or into quarters using poultry shears or a sharp knife.
  2. Process the shallots, garlic, herbs, salt and spices in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the butter and process to make a smooth paste.
  3. Thoroughly rub the paste over the skin of the chicken and then allow it to stand for 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  5. Put the chicken in a roasting tin. If using, quarter the lemon and place one or two quarters around the chicken pieces (or in the body cavity if the chicken is whole) and squeeze a little juice over the skin.
  6. Roast in the oven for 1 to 1-1/4 hours (2 to 2-1/2 hours for a whole bird), until the chicken is cooked through and the meat juices run clear when pierced with the point of a knife.
  7. Baste the meat occasionally. If the skin starts to brown too quickly, cover the chicken loosely with foil.
  8. Allow the chicken to stand, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes before carving, then serve garnished with parsley or coriander.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: The Best of Morocco

Video: How to Make Hollandaise Sauce from the Delmonico Restaurant that Created Eggs Benedict

Watch video at Business Insider (1:55 minutes) . . . . .

See also the video at You Tube:

Delmonico’s Eggs Benedict . . . . .

Study Reveals Mechanism of Walnuts’ Ability to Decrease Hunger

Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have demonstrated that consuming walnuts activates an area in the brain associated with regulating hunger and cravings. The findings, published online in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, reveal for the first time the neurocognitive impact these nuts have on the brain.

“We don’t often think about how what we eat impacts the activity in our brain,” said the study’s first author Olivia M Farr, PhD, an instructor in medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at BIDMC. “We know people report feeling fuller after eating walnuts, but it was pretty surprising to see evidence of activity changing in the brain related to food cues, and by extension what people were eating and how hungry they feel.”

To determine exactly how walnuts quell cravings, Farr and colleagues, in a study led by Christos Mantzoros, MD, DSc, PhD hc mult, director of the Human Nutrition Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe how consuming walnuts changes activity in the brain.

The scientists recruited 10 volunteers with obesity to live in BIDMC’s Clinical Research Center (CRC) for two five-day sessions. The controlled environment of the CRC allowed the researchers to keep tabs on the volunteers’ exact nutritional intake, rather than depend on volunteers’ often unreliable food records – a drawback to many observational nutrition studies.

During one five-day session, volunteers consumed daily smoothies containing 48 grams of walnuts – the serving recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) dietary guidelines. During their other stay in the CRC, they received a walnut-free but nutritionally comparable placebo smoothie, flavored to taste exactly the same as the walnut-containing smoothie. The order of the two sessions was random, meaning some participants would consume the walnuts first and others would consume the placebo first. Neither the volunteers nor the researchers knew during which session they consumed the nutty smoothie.

As in previous observational studies, participants reported feeling less hungry during the week they consumed walnut-containing smoothies than during the week they were given the placebo smoothies. fMRI tests administered on the fifth day of the experiment gave Farr, Mantzoros and the team a clear picture as to why.

While in the machine, study participants were shown images of desirable foods like hamburgers and desserts, neutral objects like flowers and rocks, and less desirable foods like vegetables.

When participants were shown pictures of highly desirable foods, fMRI imaging revealed increased activity in a part of the brain called the right insula after participants had consumed the five-day walnut-rich diet compared to when they had not.

“This is a powerful measure,” said Mantzoros. “We know there’s no ambiguity in terms of study results. When participants eat walnuts, this part of their brain lights up, and we know that’s connected with what they are telling us about feeling less hungry or more full.”

This area of the insula is likely involved in cognitive control and salience, meaning that participants were paying more attention to food choices and selecting the less desirable or healthier options over the highly desirable or less healthy options. Farr and Mantzoros next plan to test different amounts, or dosages, of walnuts to see whether more nuts will lead to more brain activation or if the effect plateaus after a certain amount. This experiment will also allow researchers to test other compounds for their effect on this system.

Similar studies could reveal how other foods and compounds, such as naturally-occurring hormones, impact the appetite-control centers in the brain. Future research could eventually lead to new treatments for obesity.

“From a strategic point of view, we now have a good tool to look into people’s brains – and we have a biological read out.” said Mantzoros. “We plan to use it to understand why people respond differently to food in the environment and, ultimately, to develop new medications to make it easier for people to keep their weight down.”

Source: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

High-calorie Foods May Raise Cancer Risk in Women, Even Without Weight Gain

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . .

Women who eat a lot of high-calorie foods may face a slightly higher risk of obesity-related cancers — even if they remain thin, a new study suggests.

The study, of more than 92,000 U.S. women, found those who favored high-calorie, low-nutrient foods had a 10 percent higher risk of cancers linked to obesity. These include processed foods like chips, fast foods and sweets.

The list of malignancies included breast, colon, ovarian, kidney and endometrial cancers. Obesity is considered one of many risk factors for those diseases.

There was a catch, though, the study found. A penchant for high-calorie food was tied to cancer risk only among women who were of normal weight.

Researchers called the findings “novel” and somewhat unexpected. Going into the study, they’d hypothesized that any link between calorie-dense diets and cancer would be strongest among obese women.

But the results suggest that staying trim, alone, is not enough to curb the risk of obesity-related cancers, said lead researcher Cynthia Thomson.

“I think when we say that certain cancers are associated with obesity, people who are normal-weight think, ‘So I’m OK,’ ” said Thomson, a professor at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health.

But, she added, being thin doesn’t mean you are “metabolically healthy” — which means having normal blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, for instance.

That “metabolic dysregulation” might partly explain the higher cancer risk seen in this study, Thomson and her colleagues speculated.

“That may be true,” agreed Marji McCullough, strategic director of nutritional epidemiology for the American Cancer Society.

McCullough, who was not involved in the study, also pointed to another possibility. People who eat lots of calorie-laden foods tend to eat few “plant-based foods,” including fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.

That means they’ll be low on the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients that may help curb the risk of certain cancers, McCullough said.

What’s wrong with calorie-dense foods? By definition, they pack a lot of calories relative to their weight.

That’s not necessarily bad, McCullough noted. “Some are healthful,” she said, “like olive oil and nuts.”

But many calorie-dense foods are relatively low in nutrients. In general, processed foods (chips, crackers and prepared dressings), fast foods (cheeseburgers and pizza), and candy bars fall into that category.

McCullough pointed to the example of pretzels. A person can end up eating a huge bowl of them before feeling satisfied — downing a lot of calories with little nutritional value.

The new findings are based on more than 92,000 women who were ages 50 to 79 at the outset of the trial.

When they entered the study, the women gave detailed information on their eating habits. From that, Thomson’s team calculated the calorie-density of each woman’s typical diet.

Over 15 years, just under 9,600 women developed a cancer that has been tied to obesity — most often breast cancer, followed by colon cancer.

While the study only found an association, those odds of developing cancer were slightly higher in general among women who favored calorie-laden foods.

When the researchers dug deeper, though, the link was only apparent among women who were normal weight.

Those who ate the most calorie-dense foods (enough to land them in the top 40 percent) were 12 to 18 percent more likely to develop an obesity-related cancer, versus women who ate relatively few of those foods.

That was with other factors taken into account — including age, overall health, and smoking, drinking and exercise habits.

But if diet quality matters, why was there no link among heavier women?

One possibility, McCullough said, is that the effects of their excess weight “overwhelmed” any impact of diet itself.

Thomson pointed to another possibility: Normal-weight women who ate a lot of calorie-dense foods may have had a more dramatic weight gain as they grew older. The researchers had some information on weight gain, but not for the entire study period, she noted.

Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is fairly simple, according to McCullough. “Eat more plant-based foods,” she said.

That’s what the American Cancer Society and other groups already recommend for the sake of overall good health, McCullough noted.

“This study supports what we’ve been saying,” McCullough said. “There are plenty of reasons to eat a plant-based diet, beyond just weight control.”

The findings were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Source: HealthDay

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