Interesterified Fats – How Evil?

Trans Fats have been shown to be hugely evil, and in fact look like they account for most or all of the “panic” over “saturated” fats that I’ve watched since I was about 8 years old. Why? They had simply lumped all solid fats together. Since hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils were “the same” as pig lard and cow tallow in that they were solid, and somewhat more hydrogenated, why try to sort them out? Only in the last couple of decades has the “evil” of transfats slowly clawed its way up to the general public consciousness and even more slowly the fact that saturated fats are not evil has been trying with less success to be recognized.

A study specifically done with ‘tri-stearate’ or all saturated fatty acid fat found “no change” in key health indicators like cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are neutral, mono-unsaturated fats improve things, and poly-unsaturated fats improve cholesterol and lipid numbers, but have other issues with the formation of cancer causing radicals in prolonged high temperature cooking like frying. While trans-fatty acids are just evil and have no measured ‘safe’ level. There is a fourth category of ‘conjugated fatty acid’ that is found in things like natural dairy products which is lumped in with trans-fats as it is technically a trans-fat, but a very special kind. It has shown some promise as a health improver, but for now the regulations are a bit confused and lump “conjugated” in with “trans-fat” and as a consequence allow up to 1/2 gram / serving to be stated as “zero trans fat” so the dairy industry doesn’t get slammed.

But industry doesn’t like being told that the wonderful mouth feel of trans-fats is no longer available to them, nor that the lack of decay from a plastic fat that is not attractive even to bacteria is “not a good thing”, so has found other ways to put in the trans-fattyacids, while avoiding the “transfat” label. Those are by leaving some of the fatty acids off of the fat molecule. So instead of a tri-glyceride, you get mono-glyceride or di-glyceride. Hide the trans fat in there, don’t have to put it on the label… So now in addition to avoiding any package labeled with “hydrogenated” in the list of ingredients, you also get to avoid any saying monoglyceride or diglyceride too. But folks started to catch on…

The latest incremental in the Fat Wars is “interesterified” fats. These have had their fatty acids moved around. So you can take some soybean oil and fully hydrogenate it, then mix that with some that isn’t hydrogenated, and shove the fatty acids around between molecules to get fats that have the right melting point, mouth feel, etc. All fine and dandy, right?

Except nobody told your fat digesting enzymes that they might need to deal with lengths of saturated fatty acids they had never seen before at locations on the glyceride backbone where the enzyme shape was not all that well suited to processing them. The result is that interesterified fats have some “odd” behavior in living things. It’s still early, and trying to find out just how “bad” those “odd” things might be is just at the starting gate. From what I’ve seen of it, though, it is best to put it in the “avoid” group for a long time until this is all sorted out.

At this point we can hear Food Chemists and Fats Engineers all over the world screaming… as that is the entirety of their reason for being going down the tubes. Screwing around with designer fats is a huge industry, and just saying “no thank you” to it will not sit well. Thus all this crap still being in our packaged food supply. (Then we wonder why people who eat a lot of packaged and fat laden foods get so sick all the time while Eskimo and other traditional diets can eat fats by the pound and be healthy… like the French with their cheese or my Amish ancestors with their cheese, bacon, lard, beef, and cream / butter diets… Grandpa lived to 90-something on that…)

So how bad is “interesterified”? I’m not sure. So I’m just going to put some links and a few quotes. To me, it doesn’t look good. But isn’t as evil as transfats. Likely it depends on just which fatty acids are being moved and to where.

Links and Quotes and Discussion

I’ve bolded various bits in the quotes below.

We really don’t know much about these new fats yet, and their short and long term consequence on health have not been well researched. However, a study published in the January 15, 2007, issue of Nutrition Metabolism found that interesterified fats and trans fats had similar, negative effects. Both increased total cholesterol, raised “bad” LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol and lowered “good” HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Another negative: the interesterified fat also raised fasting blood glucose by almost 20 percent. Because the study was small – only 30 individuals participated – the American Heart Association took the position that the “safety profile of interesterified oils and shortenings isn’t as well understood as that of natural fats and oils” and that more research is needed. Since this is an unsettled issue and because there’s some reason to believe that these fats may have negative health effects, I would recommend staying away from products containing interesterified fats until we know more.

This one has a pop-up ad, so not very polite…–Is-it-Worse-Than-Trans-Fat.aspx

Interesterified Fat — Is it Worse Than Trans Fat?
March 05, 2009

By Dr. Mercola

It was inevitable that food manufacturers and the edible oil industry would find a substitute for trans fats, now that consumer backlash is forcing the issue.

After all, we’re talking big business here. Over 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on the processed stuff.

Now that the health dangers of trans fats have been clearly exposed, the food industry would do you a great favor by returning to the use of natural saturated fats for frying and in baked goods. But that would mean reversing their entirely unscientific, 50-year campaign to vilify saturated fats, and would bring an end to the enormously powerful edible oil industry.

Since that’s not about to happen, it’s time for a quick review of the bad news about trans fats, followed by an investigation into what seems to be a fast-growing substitute: interesterified fats.
Interesterification is similar to the process that creates trans fats. Like hydrogenation, which generates unnatural trans fats, interesterification also produces molecules that do not exist in nature.

The highly industrialized process of interesterification may result in a product that is trans-free, but that product will still contain chemical residues, hexanes, and other hazardous waste products full of free radicals that cause cell damage.

The Use of Interesterified Fat is Already Raising Health Concerns

Studies show that interesterified fat raises your blood glucose and depresses insulin production.
These conditions are common precursors to diabetes, and can present an even more immediate danger if you already have the disease.

After only four weeks consuming these fats, study volunteers’ blood glucose levels rose sharply — by 20 percent. This is a much worse result than is seen with trans fats.

Insulin levels dropped 10 percent on the trans fat diet used in the studies, and twice that on the interesterified fat diet. Study results conclude interesterified fat affects the production of insulin by your pancreas, as opposed to the insulin receptors in your cell membranes.

Interesterified fat also reduces levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.

Gee… can you say “Diabetes Epidemic” anyone? Once again, it isn’t about YOU, or your “will power”, or your “eating habits”, so much as it is about what crap is being fed to you without proper vetting and without you knowing it’s crap.

The Problem with All Processed Vegetable Oils

Natural vegetable oils that have been altered create problems for your body at the cellular level. These fats are no longer in their natural state, and your body doesn’t know how to handle them. Your system will try to make use of them and in the process, these fats end up in cell membranes and other locations where they can wreak havoc with your health.

If you are male, the danger of these man-made fats is an increased risk of heart disease. In men, these unnatural oils trigger an immune response as they enter your artery walls. As your body attacks this unknown intruder, your arteries become inflamed, leading to a dangerous build-up of plaque.

If you are a woman, your body will react somewhat differently. Processed vegetable oils don’t appear to trigger an immune response in the arteries of women. Rather, they get deeper into your body and into fatty tissues like those of the breast, increasing your cancer risk.

Finally, a problem with processed vegetable oils no matter what your gender is the accumulation of the toxic byproducts of the catalysts used to change the oils from their natural state. These catalysts are created from metals like aluminum and nickel. They build up in your nervous system, are difficult to eliminate, and can lead to neurological problems and other health concerns.

I suspect the bit about metals is speculative, but then again I’ve not done a full literature search, so maybe someone has studied it.

Makes an interesting point. We have a need for both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids to create various hormones and such. The ratio is important, as one single enzyme makes both pro-inflammation and anti-inflammation products and it is competition for that enzyme by the two fatty acid classes that determines how much of each product you get. Our modern seed-oil dominated diet is ‘way high’ in omega-6 and we have an ‘epidemic’ of inflammatory diseases… so while everyone ought to be trying to get omega-3 fatty acids into their diet, and reduce omega-6 levels, what happens when you “hydrogenate and interesterify”? Any omega-3 gets wiped out in the hydrogenated oils, then interesterifying with an omega-6 heavy seed oil gives a result with some saturated and some omega-6, but little that is a natural balance or structure.

These quotes have live links to the studies, but I’ve not copied the links here. Hit the original to get the links.

What effects on your body would fully hydrogenated oils have when mixed with all types of cooking oils that are liquid? The key is liquid oils are mixed sometimes with the semi-solid fully hydrogenated oils. But how will the fats appear on food labels? See the study, “Dietary n-3:n-6 fatty acid ratios differentially influence hormonal signature in a rodent model of metabolic syndrome relative to healthy controls.”

That new study that appeared on June 28, 2010 in the scientific nutrition-oriented journal, Nutrition & Metabolism. The study researched the use of fully hydrogenated fats as compared to the old partially hydrogenated fats to see what the new fully hydrogenated fats will do to your body and health system. The study looked at health effects. The study was done using rodents. Studies with humans are necessary and more research is needed.

The clincher is the product could say “no trans fats” on the label because it has no trans fats. Instead, it has a newer fat, that’s fully hydrogenated instead of partially hydrogenated. Unfortunately, that kind of fats in processed foods such as baked goods could raise your blood glucose level. Check out the study.

I’ve added line feeds to the abstract for readability.

Dietary n-3:n-6 fatty acid ratios differentially influence hormonal signature in a rodent model of metabolic syndrome relative to healthy controls

Paul R Burghardt1†, Elyse S Kemmerer2†, Bradley J Buck2, Andrew J Osetek2, Charles Yan2, Lauren G Koch3, Steven L Britton3 and Simon J Evans12*†

* Corresponding author: Simon J Evans

† Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, The University of Michigan, MBNI 2028, 205 Zina Pitcher Place, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

2 Department of Psychiatry, The University of Michigan, BSRB 5059,109 Zina Pitcher Place, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

3 Department of Anesthesiology, The University of Michigan, BSRB 2021, 109 Zina Pitcher Place, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Nutrition & Metabolism 2010, 7:53 doi:10.1186/1743-7075-7-53

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Received: 11 March 2010
Accepted: 28 June 2010
Published: 28 June 2010
© 2010 Burghardt et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License

Dietary ratios of omega-3 (n-3) to omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been implicated in controlling markers of the metabolic syndrome, including insulin sensitivity, inflammation, lipid profiles and adiposity. However, the role of dietary PUFAs in regulating energy systems in healthy relative to metabolic diseased backgrounds has not been systematically addressed. We used dietary manipulation of n-3 to n-6 PUFA ratios in an animal model of metabolic syndrome and a related healthy line to assay feeding behavior and endocrine markers of feeding drive and energy regulation.

Two related lines of rodents with a healthy and a metabolic syndrome phenotype were fed one of two isocaloric diets, comprised of either a 1:1 or a 1:30 n-3 to n-6 ratio, for 30 days. Food intake and weight gain were monitored; and leptin, ghrelin, adiponectin and a suite of hypothalamic neuropeptides involved in energy regulation were assayed following the dietary manipulation period. There was no difference in caloric intake or weight gain between diet groups, however there was a significant interaction between diet and phenotypic line on central and peripheral markers of energy homeostasis.

Thus serum levels of leptin, acylated-ghrelin and adiponectin, and mRNA levels of the anorexigenic hypothalamic neuropeptide, cocaine-amphetamine related transcript (CART), showed differential, dietary responses with HCR rats showing an increase in anorexigenic signals in response to unbalanced n-3:6 ratios, while LCR did not. These data are the first to demonstrate that a rodent line with a metabolic syndrome-like phenotype responds differentially to dietary manipulation of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids relative to a related healthy line with regard to endocrine markers of energy homeostasis. The dietary n-3:n-6 ratios used in this experiment represent extreme points of natural human diets, however the data suggest that optimal recommendations regarding omega-3 and omega-6 intake may have differing effects in healthy subjects relative to metabolic syndrome patients. Further research is necessary to establish these responses in human populations.

Basically, you need to dump the corn and soybean oils and go looking for more Omega-3 intake. Hiding those fatty acid sources in ‘interesterified’ fats doesn’t help that process.

For the next one, admittedly the Palm Oil Board is going to be biased as natural palm oil is THE chief natural alternative hard fat (shortening) to the industrial processed seed oil fats (that I like to call “plastic fats”…) so this needs to be taken in that context. Still, the source of a discovery does not diminish the nature of any truth in it.

Questionable Health Impact of Trans Alternative
January 18, 2007 – News

There’s little doubt the widespread use of partially hydrogenated oils, or trans fats, in food will soon be a thing of the past. But new research questions the health effects of the interesterified fats many were banking on to replace unhealthy trans fats.


In a study published online in Nutrition and Metabolism (, researchers from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Kuala Lumpur, National University of Malaysia, Bangi, and Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, found that interesterified fats adversely affected human metabolism of lipoproteins and glucose, compared to an unmodified, natural saturated fat.

Researchers designed three diets with tightly controlled total fat and fatty acid composition. The whole-food diets were identical, except that one diet rotation was based on palm olein (POL), another on trans-rich partially hydrogenated soybean oil (PHSO), and the last on interesterified fat (IE). Each of the 30 volunteers consumed all three diets in random rotation during four-week diet periods. Blood samples were collected prior to beginning a test period and twice during the last week.

At the end of four weeks, both PHSO and IE fats significantly elevated LDL and HDL ratios. Measures of fasting blood glucose and insulin and cholesterol levels showed that blood glucose levels after the IE meals were 40% higher than after the PHSO or POL diet rotations. In addition, fasting insulin levels were adversely affected by both IE and PHSO consumption, with the researchers reporting a 10% lower level after the PHSO diet, and 22% lower after the IE diet rotation.

Levels of HDL decreased by 7% and 8%, respectively, for the IE and PHSO diets, compared to the POL diet.

“Whether this reflects the amount of test fat consumed, underlying genetics of the specific population examined, or some unknown factor, requires further study because the apparent adverse impact on insulin metabolism is a troubling finding,” notes Dr. Kalyana Sundram, nutrition director for palm oil research, Malaysian Palm Oil Board.

In short: Palm Oil good, plastic fats bad. Both for blood / cholesterol issues and for insulin / diabetic issues. Yes, a small study. Yes, a source with an agenda. Yes, too few people with too narrow a genetic base. But this comes at the end of a long pattern of processed fats causing issues.

Looks really interesting, and the full text is available for “free” as long as you “sign up”, but I’m not interested in “signing up” for yet more things… so just the abstract. CHD ought to be Coronary Heart Disease, while SFA ought to be Saturated Fatty Acid. TAG looks like it means TriGlyceride, but I can’t think of a direct translation; tri-acid-glyceride? SN-1,2, and 3 are the three positions on the glyceride backbone. I’ve added some line feeds for readability and bolded a couple of things:

Triacylglycerol structure and interesterification of palmitic and stearic acid-rich fats: an overview and implications for cardiovascular disease.

Sarah E E Berry

Nutritional Sciences Division, King’s College London, Franklin-Wilkins Building, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, UK.
Nutrition Research Reviews (Impact Factor: 3.86). 06/2009; 22(1):3-17. DOI: 10.1017/S0954422409369267

Source: PubMed


The position of fatty acids in the TAG molecule (sn-1, sn-2 and sn-3) determines the physical properties of the fat, which affects its absorption, metabolism and distribution into tissues, which may have implications for the risk of CHD. The TAG structure of fats can be manipulated by the process of interesterification, which is of increasing commercial importance, as it can be used to change the physical characteristics of a fat without the generation of trans-fatty acids.

Interesterified fats rich in long-chain SFA are commercially important, but few studies have investigated their health effects. Evidence from animal and human infant studies suggests that TAG structure and interesterification affect digestibility, atherogenicity and fasting lipid levels, with fats containing palmitic and stearic acid in the sn-2 position being better digested and considered to be more atherogenic.

However, chronic studies in human adults suggest that TAG structure has no effect on digestibility or fasting lipids. The postprandial effects of fats with differing TAG structure are better characterised but the evidence is inconclusive; it is probable that differences in the physical characteristics of fats resulting from interesterification and changes in TAG structure are key determinants of the level of postprandial lipaemia, rather than the position of fatty acids in the TAG.

The present review gives an overview of TAG structure and interesterified palmitic and stearic acid-rich fats, their physical properties and their acute and chronic effects in human adults in relation to CHD.

So screwing around with the order and structure of fats can screw up your arteries and maybe more, but it depends on details that are clearly not being looked at (or even noticed?) by the industrial fat makers.

Oh, and it might be that you get screwed up some if your mother ate crap while you were forming.

Interesterified fat or palm oil as substitutes for partially hydrogenated fat during the perinatal period produces changes in the brain fatty acids profile and increases leukocyte–endothelial interactions in the cerebral microcirculation from the male offspring in adult life

Vanessa Misana, Vanessa Estatob, Patricia Coelho de Velascoa, Flavia Brasil Spreaficoa, Tatiana Magria, Raísa Magno de Araújo Ramos dos Santosa, Thaiza Fragosoa, Amanda S. Souzaa, Valter Tadeu Boldarinec, Isabela T. Bonomoa, b, Fátima L.C. Sardinhaa, Lila M. Oyamac, Eduardo Tibiriçáb, Maria das Graças Tavares do Carmoa, ,

a Instituto de Nutrição Josué de Castro, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janerio, Brazil
b Laboratório de Investigação Cardiovascular, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz – FIOCRUZ, Brazil
c Departamento de Fisiologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo – UNIFESP, São Paulo, Brazil

Accepted 1 May 2015, Available online 13 May 2015

• Maternal nutrition can predispose offspring to metabolic diseases in adulthood.
• Interesterified fat or palm oil is not good substitutes for dietary trans fat.
• Maternal lipid diet can influence the brain inflammatory status of adult offspring.
• More information about the safety of dietary fats is required for food industry.


We investigated whether maternal intake of normolipidic diets with distinct fatty acid (FA) compositions alters the lipidic profile and influences the inflammatory status of the adult offsprings׳ brains. C57BL/6 female mice during pregnancy and lactation received diets containing either soybean oil (CG), partially hydrogenated vegetable fat rich in trans-fatty acids (TG), palm oil (PG), or interesterified fat (IG). After weaning, male offspring from all groups received control diet. The FA profile was measured in the offspring׳s brains at post-natal days 21 and 90. Brain functional capillary density as well as leukocyte–endothelial interactions in the cerebral post-capillary venules was assessed by intravital fluorescence microscopy at post-natal day 90. Inflammation signaling was evaluated through toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) content in brain of the adult offspring. In the 21-day old offspring, the brains of the TG showed higher levels of trans FA and reduced levels of linoleic acid (LA) and total n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). At post-natal day 90, TG and IG groups showed reduced levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and total n-3 PUFA tended to be lower compared to CG. The offspring׳s brains exhibited an altered microcirculation with increased leukocyte rolling in groups TG, PG and IG and in TG group increased leukocyte adhesion. The TLR4 content of TG, IG and PG groups only tended to increase (23%; 20% and 35%, respectively). Maternal consumption of trans FA, palm oil or interesterified fat during pregnancy and lactation can trigger the initial steps of inflammatory pathways in the brain of offspring in adulthood.

This is basically saying that you need Omega-3 fatty acids for proper brain development and inflammation issues. But we already new that. My Mum used to call fish “brain food”, and it is exactly right. So “interesterified” isn’t going to cut it for Mom’s In The Making (nor does trans-fat or other saturated fats like Palm Oil).

In Conclusion

So, to me, it looks like more work needs to be done to clearly show that Interesterified is evil without doubt; but there is enough smoke in the room and the smell of cordite in the air and that bullet hole in the body all pointing toward the existence of a smoking gun…

It is also pretty clear that screwing around with fats and oils is just not a very good idea, no matter what the processed food industry thinks. Natural fats and oils have none of these problems, and it doesn’t matter if they come from animals or plants all that much. Just keep down the level of Omega-6 oils in the diet, and make sure to include some Omega-3 sources of reasonable size. Grass fed beef, sheep from a range, wild fish, flax and chia.

Personally, I mostly use olive oil and butter for most cooking. We have some cheaper bottle oils for things like deep fat frying. Safflower is my favorite, but kind of expensive, and then canola for a good omega-6/3 ratio for non-cooking things like salad oils. (Heat really damages omega-3 fats). I would use lard for frying except the commercial stuff is partially hydrogenated to make it more solid… Sigh. And making my own is a bit of trouble that I’m not really wanting to take on. (Then again, saving some lard from the regular roast ham has its attractions ;-)

I found that a local “health food store” named Sprouts has decent bread made without mono or di-glycerides or interesterified oils and lacking the word ‘hydrogenated’ on the label; so now I don’t have to make as much bread myself ;-) Walmart in store bakery also lists regular oils on the ingredients (and does not have the corn meal on the bottom that higher end places, like Public’s Markets in Florida, have; and since I can’t eat corn, that leaves them out for me…) So it is possible to find packaged sliced bread that isn’t damaging to your health.

With that, “happy hunting” as you find that nearly very packaged food that is a bread, pastry, or has a crust is made with one of those three evil plastic fats, and that avoiding them largely means making your own foods from scratch or hanging out in the expensive “health food” stores.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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10 Responses to Interesterified Fats – How Evil?

  1. sabretoothed says:

    Seed oils are toxic. Saturated animal fats are the best :)

  2. Terry Jay says:

    Avocado oil, Olive oil and Coconut oil seem to be pretty OK. Animal fats are great.

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    Not exactly toxic, just becomes so under many kinds of normal processing. Like heating it. The extraction process is often toxic… High heat extraction causes formation of small amounts of trans-fats in ordinary seed oils (NOT listed on the ingredients, BTW…) so even using plain old soybean oil for salad dressing “has issues”. (Using it in a deep fryer makes carcinogenic byproducts… hydrogenating it to make it heat stable induces trans-fats… even ‘fully hydrogenated’ isn’t… and leaves up to 2% transfat content).

    BUT, if you could get a cold extraction process seed oil, and then used it cold in a salad dressing, no problem. It’s just that you can’t get that at the grocery store…

    I know, harvesting nits…

    For making fried foods, saturated fats ARE best. They do not oxidize anywhere nearly as much, the acrylamide formation on heating is way way down in the basement. They do not convert to trans fats. So it goes.

    THE major problem with that, though, is that pig fat (for example) is NOT all saturated. It contains some unsaturated fats. (You are what you eat, and THEY are what they eat, so feeding a load of soy and corn with unsaturated fats puts those fats into them… some gets converted to saturated fats, but not all). So lard is not fully solid at room temperature. (Still, it makes a better frying fat than liquid seed oils… we used to get blocks of lard in the restaurant specifically for frying, prior to the advent of hydrogenated shortening as the only common frying fat…) The big problem there is that the commonly available lard in the grocery store has been partially hydrogenated to make it more “stable”… Sigh.

    So you are kind of left with:

    1) Make your own lard. (Not THAT hard. Rendering pig fat and cooling it is about it. Buy why should I have to do it?)

    2) Use reserved beef fat / tallow. (See above about making your own).

    3) Use Palm Oil vegetable shortening or coconut oil (expensive, and coconut foams a LOT in deep frying use).

    4) Use a mono-unsaturated oil like Olive Oil. (But that adds a flavor you might not want on your eggs…)

    5) Find very expensive boutique priced saturated fat sources. (I.e. expensive Whole Foods type prices).

    I use a mix of olive and butter as that has a nice flavor that’s fairly neutral (especially if you use ‘lite flavor’ olive oil) yet higher ‘smoke temperature’ than butter alone. Then, if I’m cooking bacon, I’ll use the bacon grease for the eggs. It can be used for a lot of things, but only if you want that smoke / bacon accent… Palm Kernal Oil Shortening goes into baked goods and some frying (where an absolute neutral flavor is needed). Then the cannola oil for those times when you need a lot of oil and can live with a bit of deep fryer aging…

    has a nice chart with a lousy cut / paste, so look at it there as I’m not willing to unscramble it… but some excerpts:

    Fatty Acids
    Vegetable Oils   Polyunsaturated   Monounsaturated   Saturated 
    Corn Oil         59%               24%               13%
    Soybean Oil      58%               23%               14%
    Canola Oil       33%               55%                7%
    Olive Oil         8%               74%               13%
    Palm Oil          9%               37%               49%
    Coconut Oil       2%                6%               86%        
    Palm Kernal Oil   2%               11%               81%
    Animal Fats
    Lard             11%               45%               40%
    Beef Fat          4%               42%               50%
    Butter Fat        4%               29%               62%

    Note that butter, coconut oil, and palm oil have very short chain fatty acids and these are much more healthful than long chain, so though butter, for example, is 62% saturated, much of that is only 4 carbons long (compare with soybean where 22 and 24 carbons long are common. Beef fats tend to 18 carbons long). Coconut oil tends to about 9 carbons long while palm oil is about 12. Coconut oil foams in deep fat frying, so use it for other things.

    So a quick inspection, knowing that saturated fats are best for high temperature use, shows butter, beef fat, Palm Kernal Oil, and Coconut oil as all very good. Lard and Palm Oil as “OK” to good. And, if you want to get your Omega-3 values up a bit, use Canola oil for salad dressing with that high monounsaturated figure.

    Safflower comes in two types, one high in omega-6 and the other not, so it’s harder to shop for the high oleic acid one. But if you can find it, it is about as good as olive oil. And as you can see from the chart, Olive oil is very high in monounsaturated fats so generally good for medium heat cooking or salad oils; but adds a distinctive flavor sometimes so not for all cooking.

  4. p.g.sharrow says:

    A note on saving deep fat frying oils. After cooking, drop in some sliced potatoes to cook. They will absorb the off flavors that the oil has collected during frying. This was a common practice in the kitchen 60 years ago when people actually used a lot of lard. Even then lard was expensive and not wasted. We raised a lot of hogs as well as butchered and preserved. Saving the fat and “trying” rendering off the lard from the fat was a very important part of that enterprise.
    The quality of the feed had an important bearing on how “hard” the lard would be as well as it’s flavor. Wheat and barley fed hogs made lard with a nutty flavor. The “old timers” claimed that acorn feed hogs yielded the finest lard. My father and Uncle fed a bunch of hogs on safflower! Poly-unsaturated fat hogs! The cooled carcasses never got hard and they leaked oil all over the cooler floor. What a mess, and no one wanted anything to do with them. Farming can be a fun game ;-) pg

  5. R. de Haan says:

    E.M, have a read at this article called Dwarfism protects against cancer but also diabetes and how a 20 year long scientific voyage came up with a potential culprit called insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1.
    Normally I wouldn’t read any article with such a header but I watched a documentary about these guys. Very interesting.

    Another documentary I watched was about a Dutch researcher who simply activated the human immune system through breathing techniques, thus removing all CO2 from the blood maximizing the oxygen level from which state people had to do a number of push ups without breathing.

    Among his research group were people with Chron’s disease, Diabetes and different types of cancer.
    The Chron’s disease patients recovered completely but the other patients also showed a measurable positive response, better blood suggar levels and retreating tumors.
    His work now has been published and his therapies integrated in the treatment of Chron’s disease patients.

    This made me think of a friend of mine who is a a GP and who told me that good health and old age depend on your genes, if you do some sports or not, good food and…. a good portion of luck.

    I think he missed out on human curiosity, observational and problem solving skills and the drive to have a better life but I am sure that when I tell him this he will tell me to stop kicking in open doors.

    What ever you throw at it, you can’t stop humanity.

    Thanks for yet another great article.

  6. sabretoothed says: Coconut oil in the 1940s, farmers tried to fatten them with it, but they all slimmed down. So they fed them Corn instead ;)

    Seed oils are high in Omega 6 as well

    Also seed oils are industrial, they are not natural they have only arisen in the human diet in the last 50 years or so. They are good for lubrication of machines, but not food

    I love Ghee, its a superfood too. High Vit A retinol (not the fake beta carotin rubbish). Lard and Duck fat are nice too :)

  7. Petrossa says:

    And all the while life expectancy rises… Somehow i see a cherry picking type of argument here. As YetAnotherStudy ‘shows’ : no causal link with what you eat , how ‘studies’ totally contradict each other so i guess your body adapts regardless whatever kind of crap you eat. The only caveat is the amount of food intake vs the amount of energy expended. When i was just a lad, i lived with on a pig farm, the breakfast consisted of pancakes made with colostrum, sugarbread and a strip porcbelly fat. Needless to say the farmers lived a long and fruitful life, not in any way ‘fat’ due to the 12/7 hours workrythm. Sure of a 9 to 5 office person eats the same meal they’ll get health issues. My take is it’s not what you eat it’s what you do with the energy consumed.

    With a sidenote that 3rd cause of hearthfailure is exercise. Present day preoccupation with food is just a mere luxury problem. It only gets dangerous when one starts to obsess with it. There is no ‘healthy’ food. Any food will do, your body isn’t picky.

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    I see we are having a POV disagreement… You see “seed oils” as toxic, and only talk about them post extraction. I see things like corn and safflower as fine edible things, and they have the oil in them, so the oil must be OK too; yet the extraction process causes issues. So I say the extracted oil is problematic, but the oil as it exists in the grain is not. Looked at that way our “disagreement’ is over seeing the oil as existing “once extracted” or as “already existing in the food grains”…


    Life expectancy is rising due to things like antibiotics, seat belts, regular food intake, armor on soldiers, surgical repair of heart failure, drugs to prevent system collapse, etc. etc.

    This article addresses things that cause “pre-diabetes” and potentially push you into early diabetes (not life threatening in itself), that cause greater inflammatory problems (not life threatening in itself), and tendency to blood chemistry shifts toward heart attack risk. All things seen in our present population health in ever greater degree. Plus rising use of drugs that combat them and surgical intervention to prevent the heart problems from killing you.

    Not a “cherry pick”, but a search for the root causes.

    Per the personal history story:

    I have one like that too. Dad grew up on a farm in Iowa. His mom was Amish. They ate a load of pork, butter, lard, eggs, etc. etc. BUT, none of it was industrially processed and extracted and the beef was largely raised in the fields, the chickens eating bugs and ‘whatever’ in the yard. Lots of omega-3 intake. Little omega-6 intake. Near zero transfat and related (interesterified) intake.

    Later, he refused to go along with the “saturated bad” mantra. So we ate real butter, local eggs – fried in bacon grease, Mum made biscuits using lard, we had beef roast and steak fairly often as Dad raised a few cows in pasture outside of town. In short, we ate like he had. I was not “active”, rather more sedentary my whole life. I was the “fat kid” in school, only slimming down a bit at about 18 years old.

    When Dad died, they did an autopsy. His circulatory system was just dandy… Just as mine has been tested and found good (Kaiser for some reason was worried so put me in a heart monitor and did blood chemistry on me). Note that Dad had left the farm for a city life at about age 20 ( he spent 16 to 20 or so in the Army wandering over France with explosives… but I’m not counting that as “city life”, though I’m sure W.W.II field rations were not at all like Amish Mom’s Cooking.)

    The point? It wasn’t the exercise so much as the way of eating.

    Per fat and health: Yes, we agree. It isn’t the fatness that matters, it is what foods you ate to get there. Do it on bacon, eggs fried in bacon grease, toast with real butter, and beef steak (eating the wonderful fat around it), no problem (see Dad and me and much of the rest of the family). Do it on industrial transfat loaded shortening via packaged processed foods, drop like flies (see the American health statistics for the last 40 years on heart attack et. al.)

    And yes, we agree that “any food will do”… but only for a while. As the omega-3 levels stored in you drop, inflammatory issue rise. Not enough omega-3 when a fetus, you brain is smaller. Eat loads of transfat, your arteries clog up eventually leading to heart attack. But sure, for a few months, maybe even a few years for adults, “any food will do”.

    The body keeps on trying to use fats from industrial processing to make cell walls. They ‘sort of work’, but the cell wall functions slowly degrade (what ions are allowed through, active transport, and what is kept out). Eventually they reach a level where function is poor and “health problems” show up. It takes years to replace enough of the fats in your lipo-protein cell walls for this to show up as a major issue. Similarly it takes a long time to replace them with natural lipid that work better. So “for a while” and “any food will do” go together. But if you want a life free of cell wall fat related issues and free of inflammation issues, long term you need to avoid the broken fats.

    Finally, yes, exercise does help in the process of fat turnover. So if you have, say, 40 lbs of excess body fat loaded with transfats and interesterified fats, it will be faster to replace the broken fats with good fats if you exercise to burn off that 40 lbs rather than just eating butter and waiting. But that doesn’t make transfats good.

  9. punmaster52 says:

    I haven’t studied all this in the depth that some of you have ( and my thanks to you; I can come here for the analysis and conclusions ;-) ), but my opinion is generally with Petrossa: most of our problems with food/health are related to not enough physical work and energy consumption. I can’t see how plastic fats do anyone any good, though.

    But how much is it really worth? Any day now, driverless cars won’t take you to a job where you were replaced by a robot. Nothing on television with football season over and nobody Kristie Alley’s size on Dancing With the Stars. Can’t sleep in the same room with the wife having hot flashes, and the antidepressant may make you depressed. Who wouldn’t be depressed over sneakers in DayGlo colors? At least Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy are still alive. ;-)

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