The Low Down on Margarine and Fats
Amy Coates, BSc, RHN
The name trans-fat is short for transformed fat. And transformed fats have no place in the human body. They are artificially created by scientists in laboratories when they hydrogenate liquid oils to make them solid so they can withstand longer shelf lives. Trans-fats are also created anytime fats are heated. Saturated fats are more tolerant to heat treatment than mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, so it you’re thinking of cooking something, it’s best to use butter or coconut oil to avoid creating trans-fats. Don’t be fooled by restaurants that boast “trans-fat free” signs. As soon as their “trans-fat free” oil is heated, it has become a trans-fat!
Canola Oil: After you read this, you’ll be emptying your cupboards!
How often do you use vegetable oil? When you bake, when you fry…every day? If you frequently use these seemingly “healthy” oils, then you need to read on. Supermarket oils are highly processed. First, they are refined using sodium hydroxide (think Draino) to remove “impurities”. They are then treated with phosphoric acid (think Windex) to de-gum; which removes lecithin, chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, copper, and iron. To make it look appealing, it is bleached to remove pigments, which turns the oil rancid. Colour is added later because clear oil does not look natural. It is then heated above 220˚F to remove any odour, which creates monster trans-fat molecules that will eventually become part of your body! Then you take it home and heat it again in your frying pan, mutating the molecules even more.
We must start thinking of the quality of every morsel we put into our bodies. There is a huge difference in quality between canola oil and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is not heat treated, and extra virgin means the oil was obtained from the olives’ first pressing. Cancer is linked to processed vegetable fats. This includes hydrogenated shortening and margarine.
Margarine is a synthetic, man-made chemical, alien to our bodies. Hard stick margarine is loaded with trans-fats. Hydrogen is forced into vegetable oil to turn it into a saturated fat, solid at room temperature. Hydrogenation changes the shape of oils at the molecular level, and the shape of a molecule s extremely important. Think of your body like a moving jigsaw puzzle. The billions of processes that occur every second are all little parts and pieces of your body puzzle. If any piece has been altered in any way, it will not be able to fit in where it should…and could even fit in places it shouldn’t! Newer margarine is made from vegetable oil and modified palm and palm kernel oil. It boasts non-hydrogenation, but I’ve never been a fan of the word “modified,” and palm oil is liquid at room temperature. Somebody messed with it, for definite. Would you like your body to be “modified” or all-natural? Remember to read the labels of any food you’re planning to consume.
Did you know? Margarine is one molecule away from being plastic.
Product Dissection: Becel Margarine:
Ingredients: Canola and sunflower oils 74%, water, modified palm and palm kernel oils 6%, salt 1.8%, whey protein concentrate 1.4%, soy lecithin 0.2%, vegetable monoglycerides, potassium sorbate, vegetable colour, artificial flavour, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3, alpha-tocopherol acetate (vitamin E).
An Aside: One interesting question on the Becel website gave me a chuckle, and its relevance will be noted in the following section “The Low Down”:
Q: Why is Becel Margarine a different colour in Quebec?
The Low down:
Always remember, quality matters!
Learn about healthy fats and how they can actually help you burn fat. Click here to discover how!