Archive for the ‘What is … ?’ Category

"Vegetables At Market" by kratuanoiy via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: kratuanoiy via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Shelly Najjar

Whole foods are those with little or no additives and processing. Food processing on its own is neutral, neither good nor bad; processing simply means to change the nature of the food (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics [AND]). For example, canning is a form of processing that is usually considered not so good because many canned foods are high in sodium, but frozen foods like vegetables can be as good as the fresh versions because they are preserved in the peak state (read more).

It is important to know that there is no law regulating the definition or use of the term “whole food,” but there is generally agreement that “By most definitions, whole foods include fresh produce, dairy, whole grains, meat and fish” (AND). Nuts and seeds are also usually considered whole foods.

Whole foods may take more preparation before they are ready to be cooked, but the results are often worth the effort. There are also many recipes featuring whole foods that are just as quick as cooking with processed ingredients.

One way to cut cooking time is to use a pressure cooker. In 2011, Diabetes Self-Management ran a great article on whole foods and pressure cookers (read it here). The article featured basic cooking and safety tips for using pressure cookers, along with some recipes to try.

Here are other places that offer free recipes using whole foods:

You may also be interested in these articles…

Shelly Najjar, MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and wellness coach at Confident Nutrition. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@ShellyNajjar), and LinkedIn.

Like this post? You can support me and this blog if you click here before shopping on Amazon, so that a small commission on whatever you buy will be sent to me at no extra cost to you.

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Photo Credit: nuchylee via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Shelly Najjar

What is herbal tea?

Regular tea (such as black, white, oolong, and green teas) are drinks made by soaking the leaves of the tea plant (called Camellia sinensis) in water. The leaves are strained out and the water is consumed.

Herbal teas are drinks made from plants (and plant parts) other than the tea plant, soaked in water. The water is consumed but the wet plants are strained out.

Common plants used in herbal tea include

  • Mint
  • Chamomile
  • Licorice root
  • Orange peel
  • Cinnamon (and other spices)
  • Ginger
  • Vanilla
  • Berries
  • Lemongrass
  • Rosehips
  • Other flowers

Herbal teas do have many benefits, and often people drink them for their medicinal properties. Many herbal teas contain antioxidants, which are lower the risk for developing chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

However, because they do have medicinal properties, they can often interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Potential problems

Both regular teas and herbal teas (and other herbal supplements) contain compounds that can interact with medications. Some of these interactions enhance the action of the drug, and some of them decrease the action of the drug. Interactions between herbs (which are regulated like food) and medications are called food-drug interactions.

Why is this important?

Medications are given in specific doses based on how they are expected to act in the body. Regular and herbal teas can affect how a drug acts in the body at a certain dose.

For example, if you are taking Coumadin (or warfarin, or aspirin: anticoagulants/blood thinners to prevent blood clots) and you also are drinking chamomile tea (which can interfere with anti-clotting medications), you could end up with not enough clotting action (a little clotting ability is healthy and necessary to stop bleeding if you get a cut, etc.).

It is very important to talk with your health care provider (especially pharmacists) about all the medications and herbal supplements you consume, including regular and herbal teas. In addition, make sure you know what foods and herbs can interact with the medications you take.

Common interaction warnings

Here are a few herbs that can have the potential to interact with medications. Sources: Natural Standard and UMMC’s CAM Index (see Resources, below)

Note: This is not a complete list. You and your healthcare team are responsible for checking your medications for interactions (also see site Disclosure).

  • Licorice root – Licorice should be avoided or consumed with caution if you are taking ACE inhibitors, diuretics, digoxin, aspirin, corticosteroids, insulin, oral contraceptives, or laxatives. These recommendations are based on animal and human studies, case studies, and expert opinion based on the known effects of licorice.
  • Peppermint – One of the most commonly reported side effects of peppermint is that it causes heartburn. Peppermint can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (the par t of the body that keeps food from going out of the stomach back up into your esophagus, which is the tube the food goes down), especially in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), despite medications to prevent this from happening.
  • Ginger – The common warning for ginger is to avoid when taking anticoagulants, based on animal studies and human case studies, where ginger has been shown to have similar properties. Taking both ginger and anticoagulant drugs may cause too much bleeding; however, scientific evidence is limited
  • Chamomile – The usual warning for chamomile is to avoid taking it with sedatives (including alcohol) and anticoagulant medication, based on animal and human studies, because of evidence that it can increase drowsiness and may interact with blood clotting. Chamomile also may have some effect on certain drugs like oral contraceptives and statins that are broken down in the liver, based on in vitro studies.

Resources

Here are some resources to find out if you may have a potential interaction.

Note: This is not a complete list. You and your healthcare team are responsible for checking your own medications, using resources not limited to those mentioned here.

Note: Regular and herbal teas can also be harmful in certain medical conditions including pregnancy, and you should talk with your healthcare provider and Registered Dietitian if you have any existing medical condition.

(Special Thanks: This post was inspired by 1digitalfingerprint, who wrote a post on herbal tea in September, and suggested I expand my comment on interactions into a full post.)

Shelly Najjar, MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and wellness coach at Confident Nutrition. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@ShellyNajjar), and LinkedIn.

I appreciate your support. *Affiliate link = Amazon pays me a small portion of the sale price, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend things that I think are worth buying. You can support me and this blog if you click here before shopping on Amazon, so that a small commission on whatever you buy will be sent to me at no extra cost to you.

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Guest post by Carrie Dennett

Deep fried pastry sticks. Photo Credit: vanillaechoes (via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Photo Credit: vanillaechoes (via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Fried foods, like these deep fried pastries, can be a source of trans fat.

A revolution is under way in the food industry, spurred by science, consumer demand and legal pressure. Trans fats, otherwise known as hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, are surely and steadily being removed from our food. It’s a good thing.

Once hailed as a healthier alternative to saturated fats, trans fats are now being called “metabolic poison” by some health and nutrition experts. Unfortunately, these artificially derived fats made their way into all areas of our food supply, and stayed there for decades, before their true nature was revealed.

What is a “fat”? What is a “fatty acid”?

A fat, also known as a triglyceride, is composed of three fatty acids attached to a glycerol “backbone.” A triglyceride can have three matching fatty acids, or contain a mix (see image below). A fatty acid is made up of a chain of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. Each type of fatty acid is defined by the length of its carbon chain and how “saturated” it is with hydrogen atoms.

Why is some fat solid at room temperature while others are liquid?

A saturated fatty acid is filled up with hydrogen atoms, which makes the carbon chain straight. An unsaturated fatty acid is missing one (monounsaturated) or more (polyunsaturated) hydrogen atoms, causing the carbon chain to bend at each missing hydrogen.

A triglyceride with saturated fatty acids is compact because the straight fatty acid “tails” fit neatly together, and the resulting fat is solid at room temperature (i.e., butter or the fatty streaks in bacon). If the triglyceride contains unsaturated fatty acids, the bends in the carbon chains create space between the fatty acid tails, and that space makes the resulting fat fluid at room temperature (i.e., oils) (see image below).

Saturated and monounsaturated cis and trans triglycerides. Image created using eMolecules.com

–Triglycerides have 3 fatty acids attached to a glycerol backbone. –The fatty acids can all be the same (A) or can be different (B and C). –Saturated fatty acids “stack” nicely with each other and with other saturated triglycerides (A). –Unsaturated fatty acids can be trans or cis. The cis form has bends in it that affect how the fatty acids “stack” together (B), but the trans form (C) “stacks” like the saturated fatty acids. Image created using eMolecules.com

A trans fat is an unsaturated fat (usually polyunsaturated) that has been hydrogenated. The hydrogenation process forces extra hydrogen atoms  into the empty slots on the carbon chain, creating an unsaturated fatty acid that looks like a saturated fatty acid. Because saturated fats were linked to heart disease and unsaturated fats were known to be heart-healthy, it was believed that trans fats, would offer the best of both worlds: Heart-healthy unsaturated fats with the culinary properties of saturated fats. As anyone who likes to bake knows, there are some recipes that require a solid fat like butter or shortening.

As it turns out, once unsaturated fats are hydrogenated, they are no longer heart-healthy. In fact, they are even worse for heart health than saturated fats. One reason may be that hydrogenated trans fats are artificial—they don’t occur in nature (very small amounts of natural trans fats are present in meat and dairy products).

Why did it take so long to do something about trans fats?

Although some experts expressed concern about trans fats in their early days, it took decades before their voices (together with mounting scientific evidence) grew loud enough that the mistake could no longer be ignored. In the meantime, trans fats had seeped into all areas of food preparation. Restaurants were frying in hydrogenated oils (trans fats) instead of beef tallow (saturated fat). Home cooks got the message that margarine (trans fats) was heart-healthy and that butter (saturated fat) was not. You would be hard pressed to pick up a box of crackers or cupcakes without seeing hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list.

Finally, we’ve arrived at the point where restaurants and food manufacturers are turning away from trans fats. Trouble is, when you remove a major ingredient, you need to replace it with something.

What exactly is taking the place of trans fats?

Trans fats, and saturated fats before them, were valued for their stability at high heat. Any replacements for trans fats need to have similar qualities.

For commercial frying, partially hydrogenated oils are being replaced by vegetable oils that are naturally stable at high heat (corn, cottonseed, palm, peanut and rice bran) as well as sunflower, soybean and canola oils that have been modified to make them less likely to break down and become rancid at high heat.

The situation becomes trickier when looking for a replacement for solid hydrogenated fats, such as those used for baking. Any candidate must have the right texture and creaming ability, and it can’t turn to liquid too soon. It’s also important that the fat doesn’t go rancid quickly, so the product will be shelf-stable. The trend so far is to produce trans fat-free shortenings using either palm oil or interesterified vegetable oil.

What is palm oil? What are the pros and cons?

Palm oil is a tropical oil that comes from the fruit portion of the palm fruit (as opposed to palm kernel oil, which comes from the kernel of the palm fruit). Palm oil is rich in palmitic acid, a saturated fat, but there is disagreement among scientists and health experts about the effect palmitic acid may have on blood cholesterol and heart disease. Additionally, there are environmental concerns about the harvesting of palm oil.

What is interesterified oil? What are the pros and cons?

Interesterified oils have been used since the 1930s, but interest in them increased as trans fats began to be taken out of foods. Interesterified oils take a small amount of unsaturated triglycerides (usually soybean or cottonseed), fully hydrogenate them, then mix them with a lot of the non-hydrogenated oil. The triglycerides in the mixture are broken apart and their fatty acids rearranged, producing oil that is solid at room temperature. If you buy trans fat-free shortening or chocolate bars that have had their cocoa butter removed, you’re using interesterified oil.

The concern is that whether interesterified oil is harmful to our health or simply neutral may depend on exactly how the fatty acids in the triglyceride get rearranged. Scientists are finding that it’s not just the type of fatty acid that matters, it’s also the position it occupies on the triglyceride. The interesterification process is not precisely controlled, and some of the random arrangements produce triglycerides that are not found in nature.

What are health experts saying about these trans fat “alternatives”?

Most health and nutrition experts agree that palm oil is a lesser evil than trans fats, even if they don’t agree on whether palm oil is good, bad or neutral for health. Many experts also agree that research needs to continue on the possible effects of interesterified oil on health, especially if our consumption of it goes up due to increased use in commercial food preparation.

What can I do now until we know more about these fats?

  • First, don’t assume that the words “trans fat free” on a food package means that food is healthy. It’s wise to also consider what else is in the food. Is it high in…
    • Sugar?
    • Refined flour?
    • Artificial ingredients?
  • Second, if you eat more whole foods and fewer processed foods, you’ll naturally be eating less of whatever type of fat is used in place of trans fats. This means you will be less affected if years from now it turns out that these trans fat alternatives aren’t any better for us.

If you’d like to read more, Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Source website has a nice page on trans fats.

Carrie Dennett is a MPH student in the Nutritional Sciences Department and the Graduate Coordinated Program in Dietetics at the University of Washington. She writes a nutrition column for The Seattle Times; “On Nutrition” runs on the health page every third Sunday. She also blogs at Nutrition by Carrie.


Also read…

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By Shelly Najjar

Bunch of yellow bananas by adamr via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: adamr (via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Can you list at least 3 foods that have more than 500 mg of potassium? (Hint: one is in the title of this post.) If you can’t, that’s okay. A few days ago, I couldn’t either.

A family friend asked me to find some information about potassium, including how much she should get every day and what foods she should be eating to reach that goal. I couldn’t tell her off the top of my head (even though we’ve had assignments on this topic in the past) so I told her I’d get some resources for her.

What is potassium? What does it do?

Potassium is an element/mineral that helps maintain electrolyte and pH balance, affects muscle contraction (including the heart muscle), and allows nerves to transfer signals more efficiently.

How does it work?

Many cells in our body use potassium to transfer other ions (electrically charged particles) across membranes. Sodium (another electrolyte and a part of table salt) has a negative charge. Potassium has a positive charge. These signals are important because they affect how well a signal can travel through the cell (like what nerve cells do).

Potassium and sodium are also transferred in and out of the cells to maintain fluid balance, because water likes to collect in areas where there is a lot of sodium. If the inside of a cell has too much sodium, water will be drawn in to dilute it, through the process of osmosis (water moving from an area of low concentration to an area of high concentration). If too much water collects in the cell, it will burst.

One of the things cells do to prevent this from happening is to exchange sodium for potassium (potassium molecules are pulled into the cell and sodium molecules are pushed out).

Where is it found?

Obviously, potassium is important. It is in many foods, including

  • baked potatoes with skin (925 mg/medium potato)
  • canned white beans (595 mg/cup), and
  • canned clams (535 mg/3 oz).

(Note: You should now be able to answer the potassium question at the beginning of this post.)

There are a couple of lists of potassium-containing foods that I want to share with you.

  1. The first is a list sorted by the amount of potassium per serving: Food Sources of Potassium.
  2. The second is a more comprehensive list, organized by food groups separated into three categories (High Potassium, Moderate Potassium, and Lower Potassium foods), and then alphabetized by food name, rather than by amount: Potassium Values of Food.

How much do we need?

The recommendation for adults without kidney disease ages 19 and over is 4,700 mg (milligrams) of potassium daily. (See the Dietary Reference Intakes. They list it in grams, so you may need to know that 1 g = 1,000 mg.) Dietary Reference Intakes are listed by age and sex for each nutrient.

Important: Your health care professional may recommend a different daily amount if you have certain medical conditions, including but not limited to kidney disease or hypertension (high blood pressure). Please consult a doctor or Registered Dietitian. Also, see my disclosure.

Summary

  • Potassium is a mineral that our bodies need to work properly.
  • Many foods contain potassium. Besides potatoes and bananas, some foods with high potassium (more than 200 mg per serving) are avocados, fish, chocolate milk, and turkey. The two lists mentioned above contain many more options.
  • The recommendation for most adults is 4,700 mg of potassium daily.

Also read…

Shelly Najjar, MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and wellness coach at Confident Nutrition. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@ShellyNajjar), and LinkedIn.

Like this post? You can support me and this blog if you click here before shopping on Amazon, so that a small commission on whatever you buy will be sent to me at no extra cost to you.

by Shelly Najjar

Note: an easier-to-read version of this article can be found here.

Stick of butter, Creative Commons-Attribution by Robert S. Donovan

Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan
(booleansplit) via Flickr

Here’s another post based on a paper I wrote for school. I got interested in the topic because we learned about how oxidation (mentioned more later) is bad, and that rancid fats are oxidized, so it made sense to me that rancid fats would be bad. But, science is complicated, and I wanted to know if this was true, or if I was oversimplifying.

What is rancid fat?

Rancidity is the term used to describe the process and properties of a fat that is stale, smells bad, and is discolored. Scientists  studied rancid fat since before the 1800s, with great progress on discovering the process of rancidity and methods to prevent or slow the process. The consequences of eating rancid fat have also been investigated, sometimes prompted by scientific curiosity and sometimes by outbreaks of illness.

How fats go rancid

Fats can become rancid through oxidation, irradiation, enzymatic lipolysis, and heat. Light and metal ions can also quicken these processes. One of the main ways that rancidity happens is through oxidation, so that is what I’ll talk about here. (For a good overview of the other processes, see Kubow, S. Free Radic Biol Med 12(1):63-81, 1992.)

Lipid (fat) oxidation occurs through a chain reaction process. The stages of this chain reaction are initiation, propagation, and termination. Fats are many carbon molecules linked together. Initiation is the event that begins the chain reaction by removing an electron from a carbon in the fat. (Source: Gropper, Smith, and Groff, 2009 – commissioned link*). This is bad because now the fat interacts with the body differently, including continuing this chain reaction.

How rancid fats get in our bodies

Rancid fats are found in the human diet in places such as cooking oils and fats, deep-fried foods, and some ethnic foods that are purposely made rancid. However, any fat, given the right conditions and amount of time, can go rancid. That means that any food containing fat can become rancid.

This does not mean you should stop eating fat, though. It just means you have to be smarter about how you store fat and what you choose to eat.

Here are some examples of why this is important.

But… we do not see all the same health effects in humans that we do in animals. Human health information on this topic comes from reported cases of toxicity due to eating rancid fat, since it is unethical to experimentally test toxicity on humans. However, the scientific community is involved in describing health outcomes, determining and quantifying exposures, and identifying treatments when cases are reported.

So, what do the human cases show us?

Spain location

Photo Credit: The World Factbook – Public Domain

Case Study #1: Spain, 1981-2†

In the early 80s, one region in Spain experienced an epidemic of what seemed to be pneumonia, but with additional symptoms (Source: Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1982 Mar 5;31(8):93-5.). It was eventually discovered to be a new disease, named toxic oil syndrome (TOS), because it is thought to be caused by consumption of adulterated cooking oil. As a result of this disease, in the first two years 356 people died and over 20,000 people were affected.

This disease has three phases: acute, intermediate, and chronic. (Source: World Health Organization, 2006)

  • Acute – fever, rash, muscle pain, and problems with blood vessels and white blood cells; respiratory failure (lungs stop working) is main cause of death
  • Intermediate – muscle pain, muscle wasting, fluid retention, high triglycerides, pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs), liver disease, and sicca syndrome (aka Sjogren syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that stops tear and saliva production and is often accompanied by rheumatoid arthritis); main causes of death were thromboembolism (a blood clot that moves to an area of the body like the heart, brain, or lungs) and pulmonary hypertension
  • Chronic – continuation of the intermediate phase plus nerve pain, scleroderma (connective tissue disease where fibrous tissue, like scar tissue, is made in the skin and other organs, causing tissue hardening and thickening), carpal tunnel syndrome, Raynaud’s phenomenon (cold temperatures or strong emotions cause blood vessel spasms that block blood flow to the fingers, toes, ears, and nose); deaths were caused by respiratory failure, central nervous system infection (infections of brain and spinal cord), and pulmonary hypertension

The people who are still living are at high risk of cardiovascular diseases (heart and blood vessel problems like heart attacks), even though they do have high HDL (“good cholesterol”), which is normally something that protects from having cardiovascular disease.

No treatments have been successful long term, probably because scientists are still unsure of what exactly caused the disease. It is similar to an autoimmune disorder (where the body attacks itself) triggered by the oil. The oil was deceptively sold as olive oil and possibly developed toxic compounds when it was processed with excessively high heat to remove the dye that had been added to mark the oil for industrial use only. (Source: Patterson R, Germolec D. J Immunotoxicol 2005;2(1):51-8.)

†Please note: It has come to my attention that the suspected toxic compounds created with the high heat in this case are not the same thing as rancid fat. However, I am leaving this case in this post to show that it is very important to be cautious when refining and storing oils.

India Location

Photo Credit: The World Factbook – Public Domain

Case Study #2: India, 1992

A group of 45 children were hospitalized with vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, which prompted an investigation. (Source: Bhat RV, et al. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1995;33(3):219-22.) The investigation turned up a total of 71 children and 9 adults who were affected by eating rancid cream-filled biscuits the children had found in the street and shared with their families. Most children ate 0.5 to 2 biscuits (because they were bitter), and were discharged from the hospital within 24 hours; one girl ate 12 biscuits and remained in the hospital for 7 days.

There were two types of biscuits, both rancid, but the pineapple flavoring of one covered the taste of the rancidity. The biscuits had an inner and outer wrapper which contained different information. The inner wrapper said the biscuits expired almost 6 years before they were consumed, and the outer wrapper said they had expired 3 years before. It appeared that the biscuits had been packaged for export, but no one knew why they were in the street. All the hospitalized children were treated successfully, and the researchers decided that the cause of the illness was the oxidative rancidity of the cream inside the biscuits.

Taiwan Location

Photo Credit: The World Factbook – Public Domain

Case Study #3: Taiwan

Despite low rates of smoking, lung cancer is the leading cause of death for women in Taiwan; similar patterns have been noticed in Chinese women living elsewhere. (Source: Ko YC, et al. Am J Epidemiol 2000;151(2):140-7.) Researchers suspected inhaling cooking oil fumes increased cancer risk, so they observed non-smoking lung cancer patients and compared them to randomly selected community members and other non-cancer hospital patients.

They found that cooking frequency and methods were related to lung cancer.

  • Cooking more meals increased the risk of developing lung cancer.
  • There was also an association between lung cancer and the temperature of the oil at the time the food was added.
  • Women who experienced eye irritation during cooking were more likely to develop lung cancer than those who did not have eye irritation.
  • There was a higher risk of lung cancer if the women waited to use the oil until it was hot enough to produce fumes.
  • If the women used a fume extractor, the risk of lung cancer was reduced (but not completely gone, which the authors suggested meant the air still had some fumes from the oil that were not being removed).

The researchers attribute these findings to the high level of carcinogens found in high temperature cooking oil fumes, which the women were inhaling.

The reason this occurs was explained in another study (Totani N, et al. J Oleo Sci 2007;56(9):449-56.), which showed that compounds are released from the oil through the steam created from deep-frying foods containing water, which vaporizes in the hot oil and rises to the surface, taking with it volatile compounds (compounds that evaporate easily). The amount of these compounds increases rapidly as heating time increases, because oils are only stable to certain temperatures for limited amounts of time. When heated beyond the point at which they are stable, more of these compounds (which can cause oxidative damage to cells) are created (a process that can be considered a type of rancidity). Since heated oil not used for deep-frying contained more of these compounds, the researchers think the steam created during deep-frying is an essential part of removing these compounds from oil (preventing people from eating them), and moving them into the air (so people can breathe them instead). Breathing these compounds was associated with a higher risk of lung cancer, most likely due to the damage in the lungs caused by the compounds in the fumes from the deep-frying oil.

Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco Location

Photo Credit: The World Factbook – Public Domain

Case Study #4: Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco

Another type of cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), was noted to be high in certain populations although rare worldwide. (Source: Feng BJ, et al. Int J Cancer 2007;121(7):1550-5.) People living in North Africa have a high incidence, and a possible relationship between certain foods and the incidence of cancer had been implied. In 2007, researchers performed a large and detailed observational study on this topic, to find specific foods that may be related with increased risk of NPC. Patients with cancer from five hospitals were compared with non-cancer hospital patients and cancer-free friends and family of patients with cancers other than NPC.

Rancid sheep fat and rancid butter were both discovered to increase risk of NPC. A preserved meat dish called quaddid (dried meat stored in oil) was also found to increase risk, which supports the findings of the earlier studies. One explanation the authors provided for some of these findings is that rancid butter has a certain compound that can activate the Epstein-Barr virus in white blood cells. Activation of this virus is a major risk factor for NPC, and may be an example of indirect toxic effects of rancid fat.

Recommendations

So, what do you do about all this information? Should we quit eating fat because it might become rancid? Do we need to be concerned about every fat-containing food?

Case studies #1-2 involved unintentional exposure, and #3-4 addressed exposure through common cultural food practices. Through these and animal studies, many recommendations have been formed to prevent the negative human health effects caused by rancid fat. The recommendations fall into two major categories: 1) prevent (or slow) the process of rancidity and 2) decrease the effects rancid fat has on the human body.

Here are three things you can do to protect yourself from the effects of rancid fat:

  • Avoid fat or fat-containing products that have a rancid or stale smell.
  • Store oils and fats correctly.
    • Since light and heat can start the oxidative process, fats and oils should be stored in cold, dark places away from sources of heat such as the stove top.
  • Consume antioxidant-containing foods such as dark green vegetables
    • Antioxidants, whether natural or synthetic, have been shown to decrease the amount of oxidative damage to lipids and prevent the formation of other chain reaction initiation factors, as well as preventing oxidation of vitamins like biotin. (Source: Pavcek PL, Shull GM. J Biol Chem 146(2):351-5, 1942.) Fruits and vegetables are great sources of natural antioxidants.

**Note: an easier-to-understand version of this article can be found here.**

Shelly Najjar, MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and wellness coach at Confident Nutrition. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@ShellyNajjar), and LinkedIn.

I appreciate your support. *Affiliate link = Amazon pays me a small portion of the sale price, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend things that I think are worth buying. You can support me and this blog if you click here before shopping on Amazon, so that a small commission on whatever you buy will be sent to me at no extra cost to you.

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