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Eat More "Heart-Healthy" Trans Fats! (We hid them in plain sight)
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January 22, 2011
2:31 pm
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This is a bonus article: I usually update on Tuesdays. I've got something astoundingly excellent lined up for this next Tuesday, so subscribe to my RSS feed to remind yourself!

Tireless media coverage, and government-mandated nutritional labeling, has convinced everyone that trans fats are bad for us.

Fortunately, unlike most dietary scares of the past 50 years, the government and the ADA appear to have got this one mostly right: trans fats are indeed toxic. According to this data (yes, it's a prospective study and therefore contaminated by associational confounders), consuming just 2% of your calories from trans fat doubles your risk of…

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January 22, 2011
9:13 pm
Cornelius
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Regarding "What Should I Use Instead," hear, hear! I routinely save the fats from whatever meats I cook. I am a big proponent of keeping a big jar of bacon fat in the fridge to cook with, for example. Bacony goodness. Works great for sauteing veggies. Oh, and mushrooms, those wonderful little sponges that just love to soak up flavor. Put a bunch of sliced mushrooms in a pan with bacon fat and a lot of fresh minced garlic and a touch of oregano, then serve them over steak. Absolute heaven.

And to me it is the height of silliness to skim the fat from the drippings of whatever I cooked, and then replace it with butter to make gravy. Turkey gravy tastes a lot more like turkey if you use the turkey fat, for instance, and butter is expensive. The fat from the critter is free, but most people just throw it out. And, whenever I can get to my butcher, I get pork fat to render into lard for deep frying. That stuff you get in tubs in the grocery store is not real lard. I also make schmaltz, for when chickeny goodness is better.

I find it terribly sad that so many of us have been conditioned to say "Eww, fat!" The funny thing is that my relatives, although most of them believe in the low fat thing, still love to come to my house for holiday meals. As long as they don't see how much fat I use, they don't care. My stuff has flavor:)

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January 24, 2011
8:00 pm
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People only say "Eww, fat!" when they see it. The reaction when they eat it is always "Mmmmm, fat!"

Do you render your fat wet or dry? What is your technique?

JS

 

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February 19, 2011
7:55 pm
Anne
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I do most of my cooking using pastured ghee in a cast-iron skillet. I'm curious what you think about what happens with the omega-3 content of the grass fed butter both in the process of converting it to ghee and in the process of using the ghee to sautee food in cast-iron.

According to this post on seasoning cast iron iron catalyzes radical polymerization of omga-3 fatty acids. She claims that the best way to season cast iron pans is using flax oil to maximize the creation of a polymerized fatty acid coating -- which is the same process that happens in when the linseed oil in oil-based paint or varnish "dries".

The question is: when cooking with ghee in the cast iron pan, to what extent would the radical polymerization happen at sauteeing temperatures, and to the extent it happens to what extent would the damaged PUFA be safely sequestered away from the food by adding it to the surface of the cast iron vs. leaving damaged fats in your food (either polymerized, trans-isomerized, oxidized)? I do notice that habitual use of ghee does lead to a consistently happy non-stick surface in that skillet!

Thanks,
Anne

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February 20, 2011
1:58 pm
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Anne:

That's a very interesting post on seasoning cast iron...essentially you're making your own non-stick coating out of varnish.  (My post about flaxseed/linseed oil makes the same point.)

Since ghee is mostly saturated, I suspect that cooking with it leaves your cast-iron clean because it's not polymerizing.  As the seasoning article states, it's difficult to get an even varnish on the pan, and it requires controlled heat and thickness of application.  Simply burning a big puddle of unsaturated fats on it (i.e. cooking at or near smoke point with high-PUFA oils) would probably mess up the finish and leave it mottled/uneven/patchy over time.

Unfortunately I've looked before for data on what sort of heat and time is required to damage PUFA, particularly n-3 PUFA, and I've been unable to find any hard data beyond what's in the article.

Recall that there are multiple mechanisms of damage: one is partial hydrogenation, which generally results in trans fats, and is what the paper I cite above is discussing.  Another is oxidative damage, which results in rancidity (or 'drying' if you're using the oil as varnish), which is what 'seasoning' a skillet apparently does as per the article you linked.

Thinking out loud: oxidative damage is obviously dependent on the presence of oxygen (and aided by the presence of catalysts), which is why flaxseed/linseed oil must be stored in an airtight container.  PUFA in tallow, used for cooking, is mixed in with a whole bunch of very stable saturated fats, so it's harder to oxidize than flaxseed/linseed oil, which is over 70% PUFA.  Even lard, which is higher in polyunsaturates than tallow, doesn't go rancid nearly as quickly as flaxseed oil, even at room temperature.  So my guess is that the PUFA in tallow is far more stable than the PUFA in seed oils...but I would love to have some real data on this.  

In closing, this is a long way of saying "I don't really know, but would love to find out".  Please leave a comment if you find anything, and I'll update if I find anything.  Maybe I should take up a collection to have two analyses run: one on fresh tallow, one on tallow that's been used through a bunch of deep-fryer cycles!

JS

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March 9, 2011
10:41 am
Jill
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I'd be very interested in that experiment, since I do re-use my tallow. I've kind of gone with the idea that, since it's mostly saturated, my metabolism can probably handle what damage occurs from multiple uses, but it'd be nice to have something on which to base the idea (or refute it, as the case may be).

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March 19, 2011
5:07 am
Weekend Wrap Up R
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[...] always been told that canola oil is healthy, hell I’ve told patients the same thing, but as this post indicates, canola oil contains trans fats! Regardless of the quantity of trans, I am now avoiding canola and opting for canola, avocado or [...]

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April 9, 2011
1:55 pm
Hitssquad
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it is impossible to make a trans fat from a monounsaturated fat

Source?

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April 11, 2011
1:19 am
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Hitssquad:

It's impossible to make a trans fat from a monounsaturated fat by hydrogenation: I thought that was clear from the context.

I'm sure there's some way to do it chemically by desaturating it -- but AFAIK that's not something that happens either during cooking or in our bodies.

JS

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April 11, 2011
3:49 am
Hitssquad
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It's impossible to make a trans fat from a monounsaturated fat by hydrogenation: I thought that was clear from the context.

It was clear from the context. You were then asked for a source for that claim. You responded by repeating the claim, again without giving a source. Does simply making a claim make it true?

Let's see what Google says:

Replacements for Trans Fats—Will There Be an Oil Shortage?by DC Klonoff - 2007 -
During hydrogenation of monounsaturated [...] fatty acids in vegetable and fish oils, far more trans than cis double bonds are formed.

Clinical Manual of Total Cardiovascular Risk - Google Books ResultNeil R. Poulter - 2008 - Medical - 88 pages
Trans-fatty acids are usually derived from industrial hydrogenation of monounsaturated [...] fats

Trans Fat, Fat caused by "hydrogenation" of monounsaturated [...] fats

Displacement of the double bonds during hydrogenation of ...by C Boelhouwer- springerlink.com
- 1953
The displacement of the double bond of several unsaturated fatty acid methyl esters during hydrogenation with a nickel-kieselguhr catalyst at 180°C. was investigated. The analysis of the dicarboxylic acids (obtained by oxidation of the reaction products with KMnO4 in acetic acid solution) by means of partition chromatography enabled a reliable semiquantitative determination of the position isomers formed.
During hydrogenation of methyl esters of oleic [...] acid formation of large amounts of position isomers was proved to occur. Migration of the double bonds in both directions took place but was in all cases strongly pronounced in a direction opposite the ester group. [...] It follows that hydrogenation of fatty acid esters leads to products which are far more complicated, as is generally known.

MERCK
Trans fatty acids are usually derived from industrial hydrogenation of monounsaturated [...] fats

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April 11, 2011
5:14 am
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Chris:

Here's the situation as I understand it.

It is indeed impossible to chemically hydrogenate a monounsaturated fat and turn it into a trans fat, because the only double bond becomes a single bond.  Oleic acid, for instance, becomes stearic acid when hydrogenated.

However, in practice, it is possible for a half-hydrogenated intermediate to dissociate from the catalyst, at which point it may isomerize either positionally and geometrically as it returns to a stable configuration.  Though I don't have access to the fulltext of your references (except the first), this is most likely what they are referring to.  (Further explanation here.)

The difference here is whether we are speaking of hydrogenation, defined as the addition of two hydrogen atoms to replace a C=C bond — or the physical production of partially hydrogenated oils.  In the first case, I'm correct, because that's the definition: in the second case, you're correct, because that's the physical process.

Since the second case is more relevant to the situation at hand (which I believe to be your point), I'll change the wording to reflect that.

JS

PS: I welcome your corrections, and those of all my readers: I want to keep gnolls.org as factual as I can.  However, while I'm sure you mean well, it feels like you're trying to bait me into an argument instead of simply offering a correction.  

For instance, you could have simply said "It is indeed possible for the physical process of hydrogenation to make trans fats from monounsaturated fats via the dissociation of intermediate reaction products from the catalyst, if the process is stopped before full hydrogenation", and you would have saved both of us quite a bit of time.

That being said, please continue to let me know if you find anything you believe to be inaccurate.

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April 25, 2011
10:54 pm
042611 – Tuesd
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[...] they don’t oxidize or polymerize during cooking the way that seed oilsdo, they don’t contain hidden trans fats, and they have low to zero omega-6 fat content. I discourage lard unless it’s from pastured [...]

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March 17, 2012
12:09 am
Kenneth Shonk
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Canola oil and soy oil, besides containing trans-fatty acids, is 85% to 90% GMO, so it is most likely contaminated with glysophate (the herbicide Round-up) which is mutagenic and even in the natural environment degrades very slowly.

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March 19, 2012
8:18 pm
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Kenneth:

That's an interesting point about glyphosate.  I wonder how much of it survives the refining process?  It's water-soluble, so it might tend to end up in the protein and sugar fractions, rather than the fats -- but I don't know for sure.

Either way, it's good to avoid consuming soy and canola products.  Even if the glyphosate doesn't end up in our bodies, it damages the soil by binding mineral nutrients in addition to its other toxic effects.

JS

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December 11, 2012
6:12 am
Aenohe
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Is sunflower oil safe to use as frying/deep-frying oil for home use in the pan and casting it after only one use.

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December 11, 2012
8:14 am
Madison, WI, USA
Gnoll
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September 24, 2012
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It's full of Omega 6 which you don't want to overload on.  I use either Ghee(clarified butter) or Coconut Oil for frying.

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"Often we forget . . . the sky reaches to the ground . . . with each step . . . we fly."  ~We Fly, The House Jacks
January 6, 2013
6:10 pm
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Aenohe:

What Jen W said.  Sunflower oil is a seed oil, which I don't recommend using for any reason because it's very high in omega-6 PUFA -- and it's chemically extracted using the same hexane-based process as soy and canola oils, so they're likely to contain the same fraction of trans-fats seen in the article I cited.

I use only beef tallow, coconut oil, and ghee or clarified butter for frying.  I use only beef tallow or coconut oil for deep-frying...and the smoke point of coconut oil is a bit low, so I only recommend that with a good thermometer or a fryer with a thermostat you can turn down to 340 degrees or so.

JS

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April 30, 2013
9:23 pm
Orhan Orgun
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Wow! Michael Pollan was right once again. In a lecture I attended, he predicted that omega-6 would be the next "bad fat" of fad, which is rather bizarre considering that it is an essential fat.

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May 1, 2013
9:42 am
Madison, WI, USA
Gnoll
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It's not that it's not essential, it's that there's way too much of it in seed oils, which leads to an imbalanced omega 6: omega 3 ratio if one consumes a lot of seed oils.

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"Often we forget . . . the sky reaches to the ground . . . with each step . . . we fly."  ~We Fly, The House Jacks
May 1, 2013
12:03 pm
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Orhan:

Linoleic acid is indeed "essential" -- but in such minute quantities (milligrams) that it's basically impossible to not get enough by eating food.  Even the lowest of low-fat diets (e.g. McDougall, Ornish) get you to about 10% fat just from the intrinsic fat content of grains, beans, fruits, and veggies.

It was only discovered that it was possible to become deficient in linoleic acid once hospital patients started being fed intravenously with zero-fat diets of purified "nutrients".

I'm not sure if you're properly representing Michael Pollan, but if so, he's wrong in this case.  There is extensive research on omega-6 intake, and eicosanoid biochemistry is relatively well understood: the idea of consuming less omega-6 and more omega-3 in order to decrease systemic inflammation is a fact, not a "fad".

JS

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