THE MARGARINE HOAX
Margarine, Fatty Acids and
To maintain good health it is
important that we have the correct intake of omega fatty acids in our
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.
Telephone: +61 (0)7 5442 9280; Fax: +61 (0)7 5442 9381
From our web page at:
by Dane A. Roubos, D.C. ©1995-97
5554 Nantucket Place
Minnetonka, MN 55345, USA
This article was extracted in part from Blazing
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
Two types of fatty acids - omega-3 and omega-6 - 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 - 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- configuration.
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
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
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 fats.
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 - in short, lowered resistance and increased risk
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 with
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 - 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
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
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
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
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
EFA BALANCE AND OUR HEALTH
The two groups of essential fatty acids - omega-3 and
omega-6 - 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 - 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
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 and capsules.
'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
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 heated.
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
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
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 - 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
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* Morrison, Robert Thornton, and Boyd, Robert Neilson, Organic
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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
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