Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Food That Will Kill You Slowly - Part 2

Following up from Part 1 of the write up, Part 2 aims to educate or inform the reader on the other hidden ingredient that resides and hide in many other food we eat everyday. The next few ingredient will make you think twice about complimenting those super soft bread that we eat everyday.

4. Transfat
Otherwise known as unsaturated fat which can be either mono or poly (single or double-bonded). They are usually a process of hydrogenation of oil which will lower the good cholestrol (high density lipoprotien or HDL) and increases the bad cholestrol (low density lipoprotien or LDL). Margarine is an example of transfat. So, yes, the favourite margarine used to bake those festivities cookies are laden with these. Transfat has been known to cause Coronary Heart Diseases (CHD).
One of the reasons why transfat are used in preparation of food is that the food will last longer outside of refrigiration. The hydrogenation process will turn liquid oil into solid. While preparing this blog entry, i was asked by a friend if taking "spreadable vegetable butter" would be healthy. I would say no. Butter is of animal origin. Anything less than that i.e. made using plants/vegetable source would be margarine. The industry is smart enough to "trick" you as margarine is 80% fat (with the remaining 20% to be anything else) and if the margarine has 70%'s called "spreadable vegetable butter" ;-) Infact, any "vegetable spread" went through the hydrogenation process and has transfat in them.
Taking in transfat from plants is more harmful that taking in naturally occurring transfat available when eating animal meat. Transfat from animal meat (of ruminants i.e. from animals eating grass) such as Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) are known to act as anti-cancer properties. Animals grain fed, however, has little CLA compare to those feeding off grass.
I am not bothered to let you know the nutritional value of transfat. One gram of fat contains 9 Calorie. Transfat is no exception, except all the good properties of oil/fat (of original origin) are lost. Some term transfat as "plastic". Your body will build using what you eat. They could not differentiate which "fat" you use to build the cells. When you saturate yourself with transfat, cells built on this will not reacts with normal enzyme available and will then not be used - which will leads to blocked arteries and CHD. By the way, heart diseases are unknown (besides genetically occuring) before hydrogenation process were found in the 1940s.
Healthier Substitution - butter instead of margarine. Good oil such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil. These oil has low boiling and flash point - meaning they are not supposed to be exposed to high temperature. Any oil that could withstand high temperature has already went through chemical changes. That is why fastfood and heavily fried food are dangerous.

5. Shortening
This is close cousin of transfat. In fact, i would classified it as an "incest by product" of vegetable oil that underwent hydrogenation. Shortening was previously known as Lard, as they are solid in room temperature (naturally). With the invention of hydrogenation process to aid in extending the shelf life of vegetable oil during the industrial revolution (to survive the long trip across the sea), hydrogenated oil that is made into margarine has since been (also) known as Shortening. Believe it or not, the invention of shortening was initially meant to make soap. How is your appetite now?
But because of the low cost and no refrigiration required to store these, plus the manufacturing industry seeking low cost ingredient, this option is just too delicious to ignore.
Shortening are used extensively to make those crumbly pastries. They are commonly used in tarts, pies, flaky pastries. Here is the bad news, one particular peanut butter with flavour brand uses shortening in their product and masked as vegetable monoglycerides (from palm oil). 
Best is some of their other products claimed to be "original" has a disclaimer stating it has no "hydrogenated oil". Guess if you want better things, you just have to pay more. But is it really what it is claimed?
Before i forget, let me tell you that i had the toughest choice of making a loaf of bread purchase on Sunday after making a commitment to myself and the family for more informed food choices. My usual loaf of white bread that i will eat without thinking was sadly "reconsidered" as the reasons why they are that soft is because of, well....shortening.
Believe me. I bake my own bread and the only reason why the bread we made at home is hard is because we do not use margarine or shortening!
Now i got nothing to eat for lunch!
So, i purchase one of the only bread with minimal amount of shortening (which you can see from the "saturated" fat level) and yeap - the bread is much harder...will not pass the "press-test" my mother always tell me ;-)
Healthier Substitution - skip shortening at all cost. Unless of course shortening your life is what you are looking for. If you must, use butter as substitute. Your pastries will taste as good - just more expensive to make. OK if it is for home only consumption and skip if you want to buy from those bakeries or outlet selling DONUTS (no matter HOW delicious they are)

6. "Enriched" Flour
Do not be fooled by the word. While it may sound you will get more bag for the money you paid by getting "extra" nutritional value from the food made from these flour, truth to be told, the only reason why they are "enriched" is because the original nutritional values has been stripped clean from the process to produce those flour. WHITE flour is an example of of a processed flour. They are processed from brown grains. Rumors has it that white flour was more acceptable back many years ago as brown flour from grains are said to contain more contamination such as parasites or germs due to mold and germs (during storage and before processing). This is believe is just a myth as commercialization sets in, it make more sense economy wise. Here is an easy example on how this is not good for you - adding in "iron" into the enriched flour and then making a loaf of bread claiming to have "equivalent of iron content in one kilogram of spinach", for example. When the flour goes through refinement, the original nutrition were stripped. Adding in iron, in this case, METALLIC iron will not bring back the original iron content. Our body will not be able to absorb metallic iron. Make sense? Our body will take in chelated minerals, which appears in traces in real food.
One more thing about enriched flour is that they are usually high in GI value. The intended purpose of the flour is a form of carbohydrate which if it is "whole", will gives you a low GI value - giving sustained time released energy so you will not feel hungry fast and you will use to burn for energy better. Enriched flour is esssentially starch. Starch is simple form of carb and will spike the sugar lavel and insulin level in your body resulting in diabetes (just one of the possibilities). Do you now feel you need more...err...enriched flour now?
Healthier substitution - whole grain flour like it supposed to be. so, settle for whole wheat flour, oat flour, millet flour. They are also rich in fiber so you get the roughages you need in your diet.

Make an informed choice with the food you put in your mouth and into your digestive system. You are what you eat!

More will be share in Part 3. Stay tuned.


  1. Wooooahh, opening Pandora's box! Great post! Interestingly, the hydrogenation process (which uses chemicals) produces a 'trans' isomer of the fat that is different from the naturally occurring 'cis' configuration. The human body cannot recognize this 'trans' thing, the lipase enyzme cannot digest, so it is literally poison...

  2. Gracie - you took what was hard to comprehend into something easier to understand in one paragraph. :)

    Thanks for the enlightenment. Yes, they are POISON!

  3. It's said that tropical vege oils like those from palm & coconut, with naturally hi saturated fat content, are stabler & safer for hi temperature cooking. But then, almost all of the local palm cooking oil available are of what the industry guys call the RBD (refined, bleached & deodorised) type palm oil, except the red coloured one from brand C, which we've just switched over to. Cheaper than some imported soyabean, sunflower, canola etc. oils too.

    Coconut oil, with hi saturated fat content, used to be demonised, but newer researches now find that its saturated fat is of a medium chain triglycerides and is easily broken down & used as energy, instead of being stored as fat. Island tribes had little to no CHDs, till they moved to the city & switched to "modern" diets!

  4. Esky - I have my doubts on RBD too. Some are re-refined from used cooking oil. If they can RBD CPO, i am sure they can RBD used RBD Palm oil.

    I am using mostly Olive or Grapeseed oil.

    Coconut oil also never unless i eat out.

    As for the islander - there wasn't such thing as "fried" food as they eat wholesome food mostly!

  5. Bro, is the bread the one that enak dimakan begitu saja?

  6. Semua roti putih komersial elok dielakkan.

    Yang wholemeal pun, was-was. Untuk buat wholemeal bread, cuma perlukan 1/3 gandum wholemeal, yang lain gandum puteh jugak.

    Beli yang mahal sikit, yang "breakthrough" tu...claimed takder transfat.