THE MARGARINE HOAX
--Margarine, Fatty Acids and Your Health--
To maintain good health it is important that we have the correct intake of
omega fatty acids in our diets.
Hydrogenated fats like margarine are non-foods with toxic effects and should
be avoided at any cost.
Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume 4, #2 (February-March 1997).
PO Box 30, Mapleton Qld 4560 Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: +61 (0)7 5442 9280; Fax: +61 (0)7 5442 9381
From our web page at: www.nexusmagazine.com
by Dane A. Roubos, D.C. ©1995-97
5554 Nantucket Place
Minnetonka, MN 55345, USA
This article was extracted in part from Blazing Tattles,
vol. 5, nos 10 and 11, 1996, and further updated by the author.
PO Box 1073, Half Moon Bay,
CA 94019 USA.
HEALTH FOOD LABELS MAY DECEIVE
Have you ever spent extra money to purchase a 'higher-quality' health food
or vitamin product, only to discover some time later that it wasn't all
it was claimed to be? It has happened in our family more than once. Our
most recent experience was with a line of vegetable oils sold in health
food stores and co-ops. The attractively labelled bottles touted their
special processing techniques, implying low temperatures and the superior
quality of their product. We had used their canola oil for many years when
I decided to write the company with some questions and request information
on their oils.
We were shocked to find out that the "cold-pressed" and "lightly
refined" canola oil was subjected to the same high temperatures (450°-500° Fahrenheit,
or 232°-260° Celsius) and most of the chemical processing steps suffered
by regular grocery store oils! The main difference was that they didn't use
chemical solvents to extract the oil from the seeds or add preservatives or
Disappointed, and determined to find a source of healthy oils for my family,
I began a search for accurate information on the production of food oils to
supplement my scanty knowledge. This article is the culmination of that exploration
to date, and will provide you with information you need to make healthier selections
of foods and oils for your family.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FATTY ACIDS
Fatty acids are essential for our cells to function normally and stay alive.
The cell membranes allow the passage of necessary minerals and molecules in
and out of our cells. Healthy cell membranes discourage dangerous chemicals
and organisms like bacteria, viruses, moulds and parasites from entering the
cell. These membranes also maintain chemical receptor sites for hormones, the
body's crucial messengers. Fatty acids are involved in countless chemical processes
in our bodies and are used as building blocks for certain hormones.
Two types of fatty acids&emdash;omega-3 and omega-6&emdash;cannot be
made by our bodies and therefore must be obtained through our diets. They are
called "essential fatty acids" (EFAs), and if we have an adequate
supply we can use these EFAs to manufacture the other fatty acids we need.
EFA supplementation has been helpful to many people with allergies, anaemia,
arthritis, cancer, candida, depression, diabetes, dry skin, eczema, fatigue,
heart disease, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS),
psoriasis, sluggish metabolism, viral infections, etc., and in easing the addiction
TRANS- FATS AND CONFUSED CHEMISTRY
Naturally-occurring fatty acids contain double bonds of a particular configuration,
referred to as "cis-" by biochemists. The cis- causes the molecules
to be bent so that the two hydrogen atoms are on the same side of the double
bond. This means the bonds between the molecules are weaker due to their irregular
shape, resulting in a lower melting point&emdash;or, in supermarket shopper
lingo, they are solid at room temperature. Fats with either trans- double bonds
or no bonds ("saturated") are solid at room temperature.
Margarine is made by adding hydrogen atoms to the fat molecules to make them
more saturated, raising the melting point of the fat so it remains a solid
at room temperature, i.e., the margarine won't run all over the table. This
process, called "hydrogenation", requires the presence of a metal
catalyst and temperatures of about 500°F (260°C) for the reaction to
take place. It causes about half of the cis- bonds to flip over into a trans-
Hydrogenation became popular in the US because this type of oil doesn't spoil
or become rancid as readily as regular oil and therefore has a longer shelf-life.
You can leave a cube of margarine sitting out for years and it will not be
touched by moulds, insects or rodents. Margarine is a non-food! It would appear
that only humans are foolish enough to eat it! Because the fats in margarine
are partially hydrogenated (i.e., not fully saturated), the manufacturers can
claim it is "polyunsaturated" and market it to us as a healthy food.
Many other fatty chemicals are also created when oils are partially hydrogenated.
In Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill (p. 103), Udo Erasmus stated: "So many
different compounds can be made during partial hydrogenation that they stagger
the imagination... Needless to say, the industry is hesitant to fund or publicize
thorough and systematic studies on the kinds of chemicals produced and their
effects on health."1
Erasmus also quoted a statement about hydrogenation, made by Herbert Dutton,
one of the oldest and most knowledgable oil chemists in North America. It basically
boils down to this: because of the known and unknown health effects of these
hydrogenation by-products, government health regulations would not allow the
process to be used for making edible products if it were to be introduced today.
Another 'side-effect' of hydrogenation is that a residue of toxic metals, usually
nickel and aluminium, is left behind in the finished product. These metals
are used as catalysts in the reaction, but they accumulate in our cells and
nervous system where they poison enzyme systems and alter cellular functions,
endangering health and causing a wide variety of problems. These toxic metals
are difficult to eliminate without special detoxification techniques, and our
'toxic load' increases steadily with small exposures over time. Since they
are increasingly found in our air, food and water, the cumulative doses can
add up to dangerous levels over time.
Since trans- fats don't occur in nature, our bodies don't know how to deal
with them effectively and they act as poisons to crucial cellular reactions.
The body tries to use them as it would the cis- form, and they wind up in cell
membranes and other places they shouldn't be.
In recent years, measurements of trans- fats in the membranes of human red
blood cells have been as high as 20 per cent, when the figure should be zero.
While red blood cells were used because they're easy to access, it's safe to
assume that most other cell membranes in the body also contain these unnatural
Trans- fatty acids in cell membranes weaken the membrane's protective structure
and function. This alters normal transport of minerals and other nutrients
across the membrane and allows disease microbes and toxic chemicals to get
into the cell more easily. The result: sick, weakened cells, poor organ function
and an exhausted immune system&emdash;in short, lowered resistance and
increased risk of disease.
Trans- fats can also derail the body's normal mechanisms for eliminating cholesterol.
The liver normally puts excess cholesterol in the bile and sends it to the
gall bladder, which empties into the small intestine just below the stomach.
Trans- fats block the normal conversion of cholesterol in the liver and contribute
to elevated cholesterol levels in the blood. They also cause an increase in
the amount of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), considered to be one of the
main instigators of arterial disease (hardening of the arteries). Meanwhile,
trans- fats lower the amount of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) which help
protect the cardiovascular system from the adverse effects of the LDLs. Trans-
fats also increase the level of apolipoprotein A, a substance in the blood
which is another risk factor for heart disease. Indeed, trans- fats have now
been shown to cause even worse problems than saturated animal fats.
Another adverse effect of trans- fats in the diet is an enhancement of the
body's pro-inflammatory hormones (prostaglandin E2) and inhibition of the anti-inflammatory
types (prostaglandin E1 and E3). This undesirable influence exerted by trans-
fats on prostaglandin balance may render you more vulnerable to inflammatory
conditions that don't want to heal! Prostaglandins also regulate many metabolic
functions. Tiny amounts can cause significant changes in allergic reaction,
blood pressure, clotting, cholesterol levels, hormone activity, immune function
and inflammatory response, to name just a few.
Many of these problems with trans- fats have been known or suspected for 15
to 20 years, but have been largely ignored in the US. In Europe, trans- fats
are restricted in food products, and some countries allow no more than 0.1
per cent trans- fatty acid content. In contrast, margarines in the US may contain
up to 30 to 50 per cent! Of course, the food industry denies there is any problem
Meanwhile, scientific evidence continues to mount that trans- fats contribute
to heart disease and possibly other conditions as well. Even the conservative
Harvard Health Letter referred to them as "the new enemy".2
According to Russell Jaffe, M.D., a noted medical researcher, hog farmers will
not feed trans- fats to their animals because the pigs will die if they eat
them. When Dr Jaffe contacted the US Department of Agriculture, he found that
it knew all about this but was not interested in the possible human effects
since this area was not under its jurisdiction. The US Food & Drug Administration
(FDA) hasn't done anything about it, either. The fact that the food industry
has succeeded in keeping a lid on public awareness of these facts is testimony
to the political power it wields in governmental and scientific circles.
The food industry funds a great deal of research. People in the research community
know that you can often predict the outcome of a study if you know who is funding
it. In that light, it's unwise to accept blindly the press releases on 'the
latest research' without considering who paid for it. There are some rather
scientific-sounding foundations out there that are basically 'front' organisations
for the food industry.3
FATS IN OUR DIETS
Margarine isn't the only grocery store item with a significant amount of trans-
fats. Any 'food' that lists "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" on
the label contains trans- fats and should be avoided. You may be surprised
to discover how many products in your kitchen contain trans- fats. They include
most baked goods such as bread and crackers, shortenings like margarine and
Crisco, refined vegetable oils and most brands of peanut butter. Most peanut
butter brands contain sugar or corn syrup which stresses the pancreas and is
easily converted to fat by the body.
So be sure to read the labels on packaged foods and avoid those with hydrogenated
or partially hydrogenated oil!
Also avoid products containing cottonseed oil. Cotton is not considered a food
crop and is heavily sprayed with highly toxic pesticides&emdash;some of
which wind up in the oil. According to Dr Jaffe, cottonseed oil also contains
toxic fatty acids similar to those present in rape seed oil about 30 years
ago and suspected of causing several deaths before being taken off the market.
These fatty acids caused illness when fed to dogs and pigs. Cottonseed oil
is commonly used to fry potato chips, and is found in numerous processed foods.
Currently, the dominant medical opinion is that fats are bad for us and should
be restricted in our diets. Given the types of fats usually consumed in America,
this is probably a good idea. But several studies have shown that the quantity
of fat is not as important as the quality of fat and the balance of the fats
in relation to each other. In fact, the essential fatty acids (mentioned earlier)
help control the types of cholesterol made by the body and help prevent heart
disease. So, reducing saturated fats and unnatural trans- fats in our diets,
while increasing the essential fats, would be a more prudent policy. Many scientists
are now advocating this shift in emphasis.
Edward Siguel, M.D., Ph.D., is an award-winning researcher who was invited
to investigate fatty acids in the Framingham Cardiovascular Offspring Study.
He recently authored a book, Essential Fatty Acids in Health and Disease.4
Dr Siguel has developed a sensitive test to determine the amounts of the various
fatty acids found in humans, and has found a definite correlation with trans-
fats and heart disease. He has also found that many people with heart disease
have low levels of EFAs. In a presentation at the Second Annual Symposium on
Functional Medicine in 1994, he stated that insufficiency of EFAs may underlie
many of the chronic diseases prevalent in Western societies. He also cautioned
that low-fat diets not based on whole foods might be hazardous: "Individuals
who maintain normal or low body-weight by eating low-calorie, low-fat, processed
foods, such as supermarket cereals, breads and pasta, are at high risk for
EFA insufficiency...compounded by the use of hydrogenated oils, leading to
elevated levels of circulating trans- fatty acids..."
The breast milk of many US mothers also shows an excess of trans- fats and
low omega-3 fatty acid content. Dr Donald Rudin, in his co-authored book, The
Omega-3 Phenomenon, stated: "American mothers produce milk that often
has only one-fifth to one-tenth of the omega-3 content of the milk that well-nourished,
nut-eating Nigerian mothers provide their infants."5
A revealing study was recently published by the Nutrition Research Division
of Health Canada. The researchers analysed the milk of 198 lactating mothers
across Canada and found that trans- fatty acids averaged 7.2 per cent of total
fatty-acid content, with a range of 0.1 to 17.2 per cent. Further analysis
of these trans- fats showed that their major source was partially hydrogenated
vegetable oils (that means margarine). They also noted that elevation of these
trans- fats occurred at the expense of the EFAs, thus placing the infant in
double jeopardy during a crucial period of development.6
Both types of EFAs are necessary for proper development of foetal and infant
tissues, especially the nervous system. According to John Finnegan, in The
Facts About Fats, the omega-3s in particular affect the parts of the brain
that relate to learning ability, anxiety or depression, and auditory and visual
perception. They also aid in balancing the immune system.7 A 1991 Mayo Clinic
study of 19 'normal' pregnant women, eating 'normal' diets, showed that all
of them were deficient in the omega-3 fatty acids and, to a lesser extent,
the omega-6s. These researchers recommended that the omega-3 fatty acids be
supplemented in every pregnancy, and that women avoid refined and hydrogenated
fats during pregnancy.8
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a dramatic
difference between the heart-disease rates of populations in northern and southern
India.9 The northerners were meat-eaters and had high cholesterol levels. Their
main source of dietary fat was ghee (clarified butter). The southerners were
vegetarians and had much lower cholesterol levels. Present-day 'wisdom' would
predict the vegetarians to have the lower rate of heart disease, but, in fact,
the opposite was true. The vegetarians had 15 times the rate of heart disease
when compared to their northern counterparts! What was the reason for this
surprising difference? Aside from meat versus vegetables, the major dietary
difference was that the southerners had replaced their traditional ghee (a
real food) with margarine and refined, polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Twenty
years later, the British medical journal the Lancet noted an increase in heart-attack
deaths amongst the northern Indians.10 The northerners had also largely replaced
the ghee in their diets with margarine and refined vegetable oils.
One hundred years ago, heart disease was virtually unknown. Today, two-thirds
of US citizens develop heart disease. Something has clearly gone wrong with
the way we are living, and one of the main factors could indeed be the introduction
of overrefined, overprocessed, devitalised oils.
Other studies support this idea. For instance, a study conducted at the Harvard
School of Public Health indicated that intake of partially hydrogenated vegetable
oils may contribute to the risk of heart attack.11 Research by Dr Siguel has
also given more weight to the theory that dietary trans- fatty acids are a
risk factor for heart disease.12
A report by the Danish Nutrition Council said that studies suggest that the
consumption of trans- fatty acid from margarine is equally, or perhaps more,
responsible for the development of arteriosclerosis than saturated fatty acids.
They recommended reducing the trans- fatty acid content in all Danish margarine
products to 5 per cent or less (it was then 0 to 30 per cent).13
Another study done by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of
Public Health in Boston, analysed the diets of 239 patients admitted to Boston
hospitals for their first heart attack, and compared them with the diets of
282 healthy control subjects. After adjusting for several lifestyle variables,
they found that margarine intake was significantly associated with the risk
of myocardial infarction.14
A Harvard Medical School study followed more than 85,000 women over an eight-year
period. The researchers compared the diets of those who developed heart disease
over that time with those who did not. They found that major dietary sources
of trans- fats, such as margarine, were significantly associated with higher
risks of coronary heart disease.15
PROBLEMS WITH COMMERCIAL PROCESSING
Refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils have been very popular in the US since
the anti-cholesterol fad began many years ago and the medical profession began
promoting their use. When properly prepared and utilised, some of these oils
are healthful sources of EFAs. Unfortunately, the standard commercial refining
process destroys the EFAs and creates high levels of trans- fatty acids, while
removing important natural constituents and protective agents like minerals
and vitamin E.
In The Facts About Fats and Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, John Finnegan and
Udo Erasmus describe the usual commercial refining process for vegetable oils.
It begins with seeds that may contain high levels of pesticides and herbicides.
The seeds are crushed and subjected to a series of chemical treatments at temperatures
up to 520°F (271°C). These treatments include the use of toxic solvents,
caustic soda, preservatives and defoamers, and they result in the destruction
of essential fatty acids, loss of vitamins and minerals, and the formation
of trans- fatty acids and free radicals. This is exactly the opposite of what
is desirable. It is all in the name of longer shelf-life and consumer acceptance
(what's left looks clean and pretty!). This also happens to the oils used in
processed foods, which means most everything that comes in a can or a box.
Remember to read those labels!
According to Finnegan and Erasmus, the "cold-pressed" or "expeller-pressed" oils
available at health food stores are no guarantee of quality. Expeller-pressing
still generates temperatures up to 200°F (93.3°C), and most of these
oils are then refined and deodorised using basically the same nutrient-destroying
process used in commercial 'grocery store' oils.
Be wary of claims like "certified organic", as there have been instances
of fraudulent misrepresentation in this regard. Some companies have been caught
lying about the source of their seeds and using regular commercial seeds instead
of organic ones. There have even been cases of companies simply rebottling
regular oil or mayonnaise with a 'health food' label and charging higher prices.
Finnegan mentions two reputable certifying agencies: FVO (Farm Verified Organic),
and OCIA (Organic Crop Improvement Association). He reports that only two companies
meet his criteria for production of healthful oils: Omega Nutrition in Ferndale,
WA (phone 1-800 661 3529), and Flora, Inc. in Lynden, WA (phone 1-800 446 2110
or (360) 354 2110). He also contacted one of the most well-known producers
of 'health food' oils in the nation, but they declined to discuss their oil
processing methods and refused to allow him to visit their facilities.
Note that light and oxygen, in addition to heat, also cause extensive damage
to oils. According to Erasmus, light destroys oil 1,000 times faster than does
oxygen, so it is important to purchase unrefined oils in black, lightproof
bottles. Oxygen should be removed from the bottle and replaced with an inert
gas, such as nitrogen or argon. Omega Nutrition packages its oils in this fashion.
Flora's oils are bottled in dark glass, reducing the amount of light but not
eliminating it. While considerably more expensive, they should be worth the
extra money, considering the facts presented in this article.
EFA BALANCE AND OUR HEALTH
The two groups of essential fatty acids&emdash;omega-3 and omega-6&emdash;are
named for their molecular configurations and where the first "unsaturated" bond
occurs along the chain of carbon atoms.
Omega-6 oils are found primarily in vegetables and seeds. They are converted
to the E1 prostaglandins (mentioned earlier) via several chemical steps. Most
people take in enough of these fatty acids, but some have difficulty converting
them to the active prostaglandins. This blockage is commonly caused by excess
trans- fats, anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin or Tylenol, or deficiencies
of vitamin B6 or magnesium. An insufficiency of omega-6 EFAs can result in
auto-immune problems, breast pain and lumpiness, eczema, hyperactivity in children,
hypertension, inflammation and PMS. Supplementing with borage, evening primrose
or black-currant seed oils will usually bypass the blocked step and provide
the necessary precursor to make the desired prostaglandins.
Dr Siguel has found that the omega-3s are the more likely to be deficient in
our Western diets. Because of food processing and dietary choices, the average
Western diet today contains only one-sixth the amount of omega-3 fatty acids
needed for healthy function&emdash;compared to a healthy balance 100 years
ago. Evidence indicates that a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids is associated
with arthritis and joint stiffness, irritable bowel syndrome, PMS, prostate
problems, various skin disorders as well as depression, phobias and schizophrenia.
The two main sources of omega-3s are oils from organic flax seeds and from
cold-water fish (such as mackerel, sardines, tuna, trout and salmon). These
fish should not be fried because of the effect of the high temperatures involved
and the resultant free-radical damage. Unlike chicken and turkey, cold-water
fish should be eaten with the skin on, as this is where the highest concentration
of desirable fats is located.
There is some concern about eating fish frequently, due to the chemical and
heavy-metal pollution in the oceans. Predatory fish concentrate these pollutants
in their fatty tissues, but deep-ocean fish are usually less tainted than coastal
species. Freshwater fish near agricultural, industrial or mining areas are
best avoided due to their high-level intake of toxic chemicals. Farm-raised
fish are fed something akin to pet food and should be avoided; they are not
as healthy and have insignificant levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
When properly processed, organic flax seed oil has the highest concentration
of omega-3 fatty acids, at 57 per cent. Omega-3s are also found in certain
other "unrefined" seed oils such as chia, soy and canola, but in
much smaller amounts. Flax seed oil is particularly sensitive and must be processed
under stringent conditions (cold, without light or oxygen), nitrogen-packed
in dark bottles to avoid oxidising, and shipped and displayed in refrigerated
While all unrefined, unsaturated oils should be processed, packaged and distributed
in this way, the vast majority are not. The companies mentioned earlier adhere
to these special methods, and you should be able to buy their oils with some
assurance that you are getting a healthy product. We have used oils from both
companies for the past few years and have been very happy with them. While
more complicated and costly, these methods may someday play an important role
in reducing many common degenerative diseases, which are much costlier in the
long run especially in terms of human suffering and loss of potential.
The healthiest foods are usually organically grown and should be eaten close
to their natural state. Certified organic seeds and grains are available at
most food co-ops. Eating organically grown seeds and other foods is strongly
recommended for minimising chemical intake and optimising nutrient content.
When consuming whole foods, we get a complex array of nutrients which naturally
work together to fuel the intricate chemistry that keeps our bodies going,
but many of these nutrients are normally lost in commercial processing.
Even the most painstaking human efforts to produce healthy packaged foods and
oils always fall short of nature's accomplishments. The best oils are provided
by nature, neatly packaged to prevent oxidation of their precious contents.
Freshly-ground organic flax seeds contain fresh oil (protected by the husk),
and their fibre is the richest source of certain substances called "lignans",
found to have potent anticancer, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
Flax fibre has from 100 to 800 times more lignans than other fibre sources.
This is an inexpensive and tasty way to ensure adequate intake of omega-3 fatty
acids (see directions outlined below). If you prefer, you can purchase quality
flax-seed oils in bottles or in capsules. Just make sure you know how they
are processed! Flora and Omega Nutrition offer good-quality flax oils in bottles
'THE GOOD OIL' ON HEALTHIER ALTERNATIVES
Here are several additional ways to improve your fatty acid balance and avoid
the trans- fat trap:
€ Have some freshly ground flax seeds every day. Pulverise three tablespoons
of seeds in a blender or coffee grinder to yield about one tablespoon of oil
(mixed in with the powder). This will approximate the suggested daily amount
of omega-3 oil for an average person. It can be mixed with cereal, blended in
a smoothie or added to yoghurt. You can also mix it with warm (not hot) apple
juice, and add some sliced banana or other fruit to make a tasty, nutritious,
pudding-like cereal that's filling and will do wonders for bowel function! Be
sure to consume the ground flax-seeds within 10 to 15 minutes to minimise the
damage from oxidation. However, a note of caution: in doing allergy testing,
I have seen several people (my wife and myself included) who are allergic to
flax seeds, and others who are allergic to psyllium seeds which are commonly
used for their fibre content.
€ Use butter instead of margarine or shortening in cooking. Butter has some
problems, too, such as residual hormones and pesticides, but it is a whole food.
Whole foods have fat-mobilising nutrients to take care of their own fats if eaten
in moderation. If you want to use butter, try to get organically-produced butter.
€ An even better alternative is the organic ghee, or clarified butter, mentioned
earlier. Ghee is the cooking fat most highly regarded by Indian and French chefs.
It has a good aroma and will not burn, smoke or develop toxic compounds when
€ Organic, unrefined coconut butter is an alternative to regular butter
in your diet. Omega Nutrition has this product. However, most other coconut oil
products are hydrogenated. Coconut oil has been subjected to a smear campaign
by commercial vegetable oil producers, but the research studies cited have used
hydrogenated coconut oil, which may have skewed the results.
€ Use olive oil or a 50:50 mixture of ghee and olive oil. Do not fry or
sauté with "polyunsaturated" light oils such as safflower, sunflower
or corn oils. They oxidise readily into damaging free-radicals at high temperatures.
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can tear into your cells and
start nasty chain reactions that can leave behind extensive damage, including
alteration of your genetic code (DNA) and formation of cancer cells. Free radicals
are widely considered to play a major role in degenerative disease. While there
are virtually no EFAs in olive oil, it is rich in "mono-unsaturated" fatty
acids and is not so easily oxidised. Use an "extra virgin, cold-pressed,
first pressing" olive oil, preferably with a greenish colour and some sediment
on the bottom, which usually indicates less processing. Most co-ops carry it.
€ If allergic to milk, you can often substitute a 50:50 mixture of apple
sauce and organic, unrefined canola, sunflower or safflower oil for margarine
or butter in recipes, which we have tried in pie crusts and cakes with great
results. We used to substitute canola oil by itself, but the texture was somewhat
drier and a little crumbly.
€ Try non-hydrogenated peanut butter, available in some grocery stores and
all food co-ops. The peanut butter will separate, with the oil floating to the
top of the container. The best brand is probably Arrowhead Mills. They sun-dry
their organic peanuts to avoid growth of a common mould that produces aflatoxin,
which is as toxic as the name suggests. Most commercial peanuts reportedly have
aflatoxin as well as pesticide residues. Almond or walnut butters contain healthier
fats than peanut butter, without the mould problem. You can find them at food
co-ops and health food stores.
€ Buy your oil in sealed bottles and avoid the bulk oils in co-ops, since
they are usually rancid (free radicals again). An oil that tastes bitter when
you place a drop on your tongue is rancid and should not be consumed.
€ Always refrigerate your oils after opening. Unrefined oils are best refrigerated
as soon as you buy them, to prolong their shelf- life. If they are not in lightproof
bottles, keep them out of the light.
€ The greater your intake of unsaturated fats like vegetable oils and fish
oils (EPA/DHA omega-3s), the more you need antioxidant protection against free-radical
damage. If you take supplements of fish oil or evening primrose oil, or use polyunsaturated
oils, consider taking extra vitamin E. An effective daily dose of vitamin E is
about 300 to 400 IUs per day, and "mixed tocopherols" is probably the
best general-purpose form to use. Many studies support its effectiveness in reducing
risk of heart disease, arthritis and other free-radical-related diseases. Since
vitamin C is used to regenerate 'used' vitamin E, supplementing with 500 to 1,000
mg of vitamin C a day would be prudent as well.
€ The most expensive oils and supplements cannot fully compensate for an
unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Use common sense and consult with a nutritionally-oriented
health professional when you have health concerns. Books by Dean Ornish, M.D.16
and John McDougall, M.D.17 offer many excellent ideas regarding diet and lifestyle,
and I recommend them for basic dietary information, although their programs tend
towards very low fat intake. However, to ensure adequate EFA intake you should
have some raw, organic nuts and seeds along with high-quality oils (such as those
mentioned above) to supplement these low-fat diets.
RAISING PUBLIC AWARENESS
There are still holdouts within the 'scientific' community, particularly those
employed or funded by the food industry, who claim there is not yet sufficient
proof that trans- fats are dangerous, and then cite studies that justify their
position. This is the name of the game in modern-day 'science' where egos and
money are involved.
However, most studies currently appearing in the literature support the idea
that these chemically-altered fats are harmful. In such cases of conflict,
I always side with Mother Nature: she is much wiser than we will ever be!
Remember that most of this information about trans- fats has been known for
many years, but processors have succeeded in keeping the issue out of the public
eye&emdash;another example of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) in the
food industry. Now that you are aware of it, the rest is up to you! Good luck,
and good health!
1. Erasmus, Udo, Ph.D., Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, Alive Books, Burnaby,
BC, Canada, 1987, 1993.
2. Harvard Health Letter, Summer 1994.
3. Jaffe, Russell, M.D., Lipids (audiotape), 1992.
4. Siguel, Edward, M.D., Ph.D., Essential Fatty Acids in Health and Disease,
Nutrek Press, Brookline, MA, USA, 1995.
5. Rudin, Donald, M.D., and Felix, Clara, The Omega-3 Phenomenon, Rawson, New
York, USA, 1987.
6. Lipids, March 1996, 31:Suppl:S27982.
7. Finnegan, John, N.D., The Facts About Fats, Celestial Arts Publishing, Berkeley,
CA, USA, 1993.
8. "Deficiency of essential fatty acids and membrane fluidity during pregnancy
and lactation", Biochemistry, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
USA, vol. 88, June 1991.
9. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1967, 20:462-475.
10. The Lancet, 14 November 1987.
11. Circulation, January 1994, 89(1):94-101.
12. American Journal of Cardiology, 1993, 71:916-920.
13. Clinical Science, April 1995, 88(4):375-92.
14. Circulation, ibid.
15. The Lancet, March 1993, 341(8845):581-5.
16. Ornish, Dean, M.D., Dr Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease,
Ballantine Books, New York, USA, 1990.
17. McDougall, John A., M.D., The McDougall Program, Plume (Penguin Books),
New York, USA, 1991.
* Morrison, Robert Thornton, and Boyd, Robert Neilson, Organic Chemistry, Allyn & Bacon,
Inc., Boston, USA, 1973, 1979, 3 ed.
About the Author:
Dr Dane Roubos, B.Sc., D.C., D.A.B.C.I., has been a student of nutrition for
25 years, and a practising chiropractor for the past 14 years. He is a Diplomate
of the American Board of Chiropractic Internists, and currently teaches full-time
at the Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Minnesota. He is committed to
helping people learn how to live closer to the Earth, the spirit and their