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Whether ""Lite" or not, margarine is water-whipped fat.

Margarine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In terms of microstructure, margarine is a water-in-oil emulsion, containing dispersed water droplets of typically 5-10 µm diameter. The amount of crystallizing fat in the continuous oil+fat phase determines the firmness of the product. In the relevant temperature range, saturated fats contribute most to the amount of crystalline fat, whereas monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats contribute relatively little to the amount of crystalline fat in the product. Mono- and polyunsaturated fats and oils can be transformed into suitable substrates by the chemical process of hydrogenation, which renders them solid at room temperature. Full hydrogenation results in saturated fats only, but partial hydrogenation will lead to the formation of trans-fats as well.

Health implications of partial hydrogenation:

Hydrogenation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A side effect of incomplete hydrogenation having implications for human health is the isomerization of the remaining unsaturated carbon bonds. The cis configuration of these double bonds predominates in the unprocessed fats in most edible fat sources, but incomplete hydrogenation partially converts these molecules to trans isomers, which have been implicated in circulatory diseases including heart disease (see trans fats). The catalytic hydrogenation process favors the conversion from cis to trans bonds because the trans configuration has lower energy than the natural cis one.

What about trans fats?

Trans fat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Trans fat is the common name for a type of unsaturated fat with trans-isomer fatty acid(s). Trans fats may be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated but never saturated.

Unsaturated fat is a fat molecule containing one or more double bonds between the carbon atoms. Since the carbons are double-bonded to each other, there are fewer bonds available for hydrogen, so there are fewer hydrogen atoms, hence "unsaturated". Cis and trans are terms that refer to the arrangement of chains of carbon atoms across the double bond. In the cis arrangement, the chains are on the same side of the double bond, resulting in a kinked geometry. In the trans arrangement, the chains are on opposite sides of the double bond, and the chain is straight overall.

The process of hydrogenation is intended to add hydrogen atoms to cis-unsaturated fats, eliminating a double bond and making them more saturated. These saturated fats have a higher melting point, which makes them attractive for baking and extends their shelf-life. However, the process frequently has a side effect that turns some cis-isomers into trans-unsaturated fats instead of hydrogenating them completely.

There is another class of trans fats, vaccenic acid, which occurs naturally in trace amounts in meat and dairy products from ruminants.

Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats are not essential, and they do not promote good health[1]. The consumption of trans fats increases one's risk of coronary heart disease[2] by raising levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of "good" HDL cholesterol.[3] Health authorities worldwide recommend that consumption of trans fat be reduced to trace amounts. Trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are more harmful than naturally occurring oils.[4]

So consume cold-pressed virgin vegetable oils (rapeseed/canola is very rich in mono & polyunsaturated fats, olive oil is very good), and, if you need something to spread, butter.

Don't consume the processed products of the agro-food industry.

Hope you're feeling better, Twank ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 09:28:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most products in stores label trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils, etc.  They are big no nos.  So the packaged supermarket brands are eliminating them.  What they are replacing them with and what the labelling guidelines are, I don't know.  It's very suspicious to see mass manufactured doughnuts and chips being touted "trans-fat free!" like they are healthy or something.

I only use extra virgin olive oil (liberally) and real butter (in moderation, but, seriously, I refuse to make an omelette with olive oil...)  But now I see that the US has no regulations about what can be called "extra virgin olive oil."  I've probably been eating bad stuff.  :(  But, it's still olive oil, right?  Still good for you...

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 11:33:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The trick is to have at least 3 types of olive oil of different tastes like we do.

We've got the stronger cooking stuff, the lighter for subtle cooking and dressings, and the light and sweet for the delicate breads...all extra virgin, first pressing.

Seems ridiculous, but we just seem to buy something that we try at some market and tend to use is for its specialness, then when it is gone we gravitate towards buying it again. But it is an advantage of being able to visit local markets in Italy and here in the So of France.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed May 6th, 2009 at 01:48:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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