What Would Samuel L. Jackson Do with Trans Fats?
Trans fats: these are some bad “MoFos”…and I am not using that term in the good Samuel L. Jackson Snakes On A Plane sort of way.
Jackson has taken on a variety of bad guys such as terrorists, drug dealers, war lords from other galaxies, a punk Christian Bale, and yes even snakes. You have to ask how he would handle trans fats. My guess is that it would come with bullets and an amazing one-liner.
In fact, trans fat might have Sam Jackson reciting biblical passages and aiming a gun at it a-la Pulp Fiction.
Something like, “Enough is enough! I have had it with these mother-bleepin’ trans fats on this mother-bleepin’ plate!”
Or something like that…
We will talk about why these fats are so bad and what it means to your health if you can kick them to the curb like Samuel L. would. Just keep thinking WWSLJD?
Not that Natural
What are trans fats? Trans fats are new to the human race. They have been around since the early 1900’s when the process was chemically altered and patented. Some mad scientist apparently took polyunsaturated fat from corn oils or similar vegetable oils, cooked it at high heat levels, and threw in some hydrogen gas (making it hydrogenated oil) and you have Willy Wonka like magic. Next thing you know they were queuing the Willy Wonka Oompa Loompa song for trans fats. (No substantiated evidence that this actually happened like this.)
Trans fat looks like saturated fat in that it is a solid at room temperature, but has polyunsaturated lineage. This fat is chemically engineered to help preserve food and give it a longer shelf life. That is nice for corporations shipping or storing food slathered in it, but not for our bodies. Trans fats often show up in oils like partially hydrogenated oil or tropical oils.
Why is This a Bad Motha-Bleepa?
So why are trans fats bad, but not in the Shaft sort of way? The problem is that our bodies get jacked up because of the chemically altered state of trans fats. Our livers don’t know how to handle it and it shoots up insulin levels just like it does with refined carbs. This leads to all of the heart, cardiovascular, and cancer risks that come with metabolic syndrome. This is the part where fat can kill you.
Scientists originally kicked saturated fats to the curb and brought in this shiny, new Frankenstein dog called Trans Fat. Then they found out it is vicious, chews up the furniture, barks all night, and dumps everywhere. In the past decade or so medical professionals and media have fought back against this vicious animal. The strong battle against trans fat has been a pleasant surprise that America has gotten right.
Trans fat is being phased out of restaurants like Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King and others after KFC faced a class action lawsuit over trans fat issues. Individual states and counties are each putting together a trans fat ban or are in the process of banning trans fats like it is the second prohibition.
FDA requires that any amount of trans fat be mentioned on labels. So if you see anything with trans fats, then avoid the hydrogenated oils please because I would like to live longer and healthier. One exception would be the natural occurring trans fat (yes this does happen), known as CLA. CLA shows up in wild or grass-fed meats. This not only helps with muscle growth, but also assists in fighting against cancer and advanced aging.
Cooking Trans Fats and Other Fats at High Heat
This is one final note to consider as we talk about fat. I mention often that it is good to cook with oils, but there are some that we want to keep away from heat.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids, normally known as PHAT Oils (I just made that up), are found in vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil and safflower oil. Unfortunately they are unstable in the presence of heat, and cooking oxidizes them making the oils unhealthy and inflammatory to your body. Cooking at high heats for a while can even produce those bad trans-fats out of the polyunsaturated fats.
Be careful going to far…you don’t want to end up taking on more than you can handle.
The great Mark Sisson, of Mark’s Daily Apple, mentioned that “Monounsaturated and interestingly saturated fats are more resistant to heating. A recent Spanish study found that eating fried foods had no relationship to heart disease or all-cause mortality; in Spain, the oils typically used for frying are olive oil, high-oleic sunflower oil, and high-stearic sunflower oil.”
We will talk more about which oils you should be using, but olive and sunflower oil are good places to start.
We travel now to the friendly land of unsaturated fat, which is the Switzerland of fat. A little teaser…there is still some things you should be careful about with unsaturated fat that you might not expect.