Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Trans Fats Legacy

Over the past couple of years the potential marketing tragedy that was trans fats has been turned into a marketing edge for the food industry.

It seems that by simply reducing the amounts of trans fats in its food products…a food company can market the fact that they are a “health conscious company” that is “looking out for their customer.”

Surely, we missed the important lesson to be learned from trans fats.

Artificially manufactured Trans fatty acids are produced when vegetable oils are “hydrogenated” a processing technique that transforms liquid oils into solids. You will find artificial trans fats in everything from margarine to cookies and fast food.

Natural Trans fats can be found in milk, and most other dairy products as well as the highly popular weight loss supplement CLA.

So our problem wasn’t trans fats, it was an overabundance of artificially manufactured trans fats appearing in our food supply.

So, how do we solve the Artificial Trans fatty acids problem?

Well the food industry has decided that new techniques of product blending and further chemically transforming oils to create solid oils that are “virtually trans fat free” is the best solution to this problem.

But the other, less talked about option is a simple one:

Recognize that this problem was caused when we started to over-process our foods. And, that if we moved back to using whole foods and whole foods ingredients in our foods, this problem would be eliminated.

However, it is important to note that this is not the fault of the food companies.

Food companies simply react to the demands of their customers. We want healthy food options, and we want healthy food options that meet the trend of the day, and we want them NOW.

In my opinion, Artificially manufactured Trans fatty acids are just another example of the widespread damaging effects of obsessive compulsive eating and our addiction to the idea of creating super nutritious foods.

After all, Artificially manufactured Trans fatty acids were born from the OCE decision that butter was EVIL and had to be replaced in our diets at all costs…(and that’s exactly what happened)

Nutrition should not be difficult and eating should not be complicated.

If the idea of making foods healthy involve massive amounts of processing and making conscious decisions to eat a food based on its supposed health value, then we are going down wrong path.

Keeping it simple will always be the healthiest answer


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Art Nelson said...

Here here. You sound like my mom, who always used real milk, real butter, and lots of olive oil in her cooking. Fake was never considered.

You're in good company with Linus Pauling as well. As much as he hated sugar, he warned not to get into all the chemically altered sugars for replacement.

Maybe years from now, all natural will be in.

Side note: There was an article in Men's Health about the bogus studies that demonized saturated fat as far as heart health.

Linus blamed it on sugar and all of our processed foods. He was before his time. But try to figure out how much sugar is in a product. Yogurt is wonderful food, but if you look at the label, it seems to have quite a bit of sugar. I'd like to know how much is natural vs. how much was added.

What say you, Brad?

Marcie Barnes said...

Good post. I disagree with "Food companies simply react to the demands of their customers", though. True in economic theory, perhaps, but they use forceful marketing to entice at the same time, and esp. with children and perhaps extending to immature/uneducated) adults -- I have to wonder if those people really have a voice in their food choices.

And a bit more on economics -- for the most part, healthy food is more expensive. We have to reverse this trend.

I wish more parents would put nutrition higher on the priority list. Even if they are not that great at it themselves, they could pass along a great legacy of health to their children. Without health, nothing else really matters, does it?

Brad Pilon said...

Hi Art,

Thanks for the comments.

I definitely think the plain simple yogurts are best. After all...this way you get to flavor them yourself.


Brad Pilon said...

Hi Marcie,

My comment about the food companies was simply based on my experience in the industry...we used the forceful tactics afterwards ;)

Healthy food is more expensive, but I think we need to reassess what is truly 'healthy' and what is marketed to us as 'healthy'