Daily Archives: April 3, 2018

JUNK FOOD: HOW BAD CAN IT BE?

JUNK FOOD: HOW BAD CAN IT BE?

How bad? Beyond your wildest dreams. Let’s deconstruct a Hostess Twinkie. Thirty-nine ingredients go into the making of a Twinkie. Why 39 when the average cake you bake at home requires just six ingredients? Two words: shelf life. Twinkies can’t contain anything that might spoil, like milk, cream, or butter. Once you remove such real ingredients, something has to take their place, and cellulose gum, lecithin, and sodium stearoyl lactylate are just a few. Let’s start with Trona. Trona is the basic ingredient in baking soda. It is clawed out of rock faces by giant machines thousands of feet under the surface of the earth. Sound yummy yet? How about corn dextrin, a common thickener? It is also the glue on postage stamps and envelopes. Ferrous sulfate, the iron supplement in enriched flour and vitamin pills, is used as a disinfectant and weed killer. Calcium sulfate, a dough conditioner, is food grade plaster of Paris. Shortening (in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and or beef fat – the worst possible fats) is the main ingredient. Polysorbate is a gooey substance that replaces cream and eggs at a fraction of the cost. It is derived from palm oil and petroleum. Cellulose gum gives the crème filling a smooth, slippery feel. Artificial vanillin is synthesized in petroleum plants. Lecithin is an emulsifier made from soy but also used in paint.
Diacetyl mimics the taste of butter. Cornstarch, a thickener, is also used to make cardboard and packing peanuts. Sorbic acid, a preservative, comes from petroleum. There’s more but we don’t want to kill your appetite or spoil the taste of that expensive chocolate chip cookie you just ordered from Ms. Fields. The rule here is if you can’t pronounce the ingredients in a product, you shouldn’t eat or drink it.

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TRANS FATS: THE REAL DANGER IN YOUR DIET

TRANS FATS: THE REAL DANGER IN YOUR DIET

Trans fats are the corner stone of fast food cooking. A recent study revealed that even small amounts of trans fats led to alarming patterns of weight gain, atherosclerosis, and insulin resistance. Trans fats are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in the fryer at most fast-food chains; they are used in many commercial cookies, pies, and crackers. These fats are commercially popular because they are shelf-stable and resistant to high heat. In recent years, though, they’ve become public health enemy number one, as evidence mounted that they contribute to heart disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. In early 2006 new Food and Drug Administration rules went into effect requiring food labels to show trans fat content.
Studies set out to document the effects of a high trans-fat diet. But the results showed an impact far beyond hardened arteries. Two groups of male monkeys were fed different regimens over six years. Although the total calories and total dietary fat were the same for each group, the type of fat was not. One group receive trans fats, the other received traditional monosaturated fats. Over six years, monkeys on the trans fat diet added an average of 7.2% of their body mass, while the other group averaged just 1.8% increase. Worse, the new weight from trans fats showed up mostly around the abdomen, a pattern strongly associated with cardiovascular disease in humans. Ominously, the obesity-inducing monkey diet was not so different from the mainstream American diet. The trans fatty acids were roughly 8% of total energy. The conclusion: trans fats are clearly toxic to humans and have no place in human diets.
Trans Fats Go Right To Your Stomach. I was recently asked what one food item I would banish from the earth. My reply was partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats. On New Year’s Day, an FDA ruling goes into effect making it mandatory for food manufacturers to list the amount of trans fat on the nutrition label. This doesn’t eliminate them from foods. But manufacturers have been reformulating food items to reduce or remove these artery-clogging fats from their products or label them accordingly.
There’s solid evidence that trans fats increase cardiovascular risk, more so than saturated fat. They may also promote chronic inflammation, accelerate the aging process, and play a role in cancer.
Here’s my concern: Under the new rules, a product can claim it has no trans fat even though the ingredient list includes partially hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening. The FDA allows products with less than half a gram of trans fat per serving to be considered trans fat free, meaning the amount of trans fat does not have to be listed separately on the nutrition label. They think this will confuse consumers and make them believe a food might be healthier than it is.
I consider anything made with trans fats to be a low-quality food. I make a serious effort to keep them out of my diet by carefully reading food labels, and I encourage you to do the same. I avoid margarine, vegetable shortening, and all products made with them or with partially hydrogenated oils of any kind. Although small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in meat and dairy products, they are insignificant compared to what’s found in baked goods, margarine, and packaged and fast foods. Unfortunately, foods served in restaurants are not affected by the FDA ruling.

If my articles interest you, please check out my website and books:
http://www.politicalnovel.com/articles/