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A New Harmful Fat for Females

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Not too long ago, my husband, Larry Scherwitz (who is also an EmpowHer writer, expert, and provider) bought a package of crackers he sometimes enjoys. Knowledgeable about nutrition and health, Larry told me he “checked the label, and it doesn’t list `partially hydrogenated oil’ or `trans fat’ like the other brand I used to buy.”

Harmful Fat for the Female Body
As many of you know, both the scientific community and media have “outed” these two “ingredients” as serious threats to women’s’ and others' health. Not only are women who consume these artificial and synthetically produced fats more—much more—likely to develop heart disease than women with lower intakes, too much trans fat consumption also may increase the risk of infertility in women. In response, health-savvy consumers, like Larry, read labels to avoid purchasing food products that list either ingredient on the label. After all, food products that are free of trans-fat are healthier, right? Well…not always.

Meet “Terified” Fake Fat
To protect the consumer against the health dangers of trans fats, food production firms have been given the directive to eliminate this health-robbing substance from their food products. And so they did. But due to the creativity of some scientists and food manufacturers, more and more processed and packaged foods may contain a replacement “fake fat” that could be even more harmful to your health. Meet interesterified fat! It is similar to trans fat, but through a process called interesterification, it is closer to hard, artery-hardening saturated fat (found, for instance, in the white “marbling” in beef) chemically.
For food manufacturers, interesterified fat is a blessing, because its chemical composition differs from trans fat, while at the same time, it provides the same “benefit” for food manufacturers—especially an increased shelf life. So what’s the problem? Early scientific studies revealed that interesterified fat may be equal or even more harmful to your health than the partially-hydrogenated fat it was created to replace.

A sampling of studies:

• Like trans fat, it increases levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, while decreasing “good” (HDL);

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It's upsetting but not surprising that companies are playing such games. I recently switched margarine products when I found out their solution was to add butter to their product. Good grief, it seems I have to go through the grocery store and read ALL the labels again. Thanks for the tip on the mystery ingredients, Linda (lslassiter)

July 20, 2009 - 8:54am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.