Monday, October 02, 2006

Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils

If you've read my blog you'll see that I've switched us over to free-range animal meat, and locally raised eggs and beef, and organic products. I've also been converting to non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners and detergents (thanks in part to Lahdeeda. Here's what we're using - Let me know if you want to sign up for them so I can get credit!).

Then this vegetable oil thing came up. DH kind of started it, nagging me about margarine. I really like margarine on toast. Really like, as in favorite food. He bought this tub of margarine alternative, but it makes the bread soggy on toast or grilled cheese sandwich, and forms a watery looking puddle in a pan if you melt it. I fully intended to stick with my stick of margarine, but finally decided to do some research on it.

Apparently there is solid scientific evidence that partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is directly related to heart disease. There are entire countries in Europe that have banned it. NYC is considering banning it from all restaurants and street vendors, etc. Wendy's has gotten rid of it and so have some other places. This stuff is bad news. I have been aware of "trans fats" and that they're bad and so I try to buy stuff without them (excepting my stick margarine), but get this - the FDA allows companies to put "0 Trans Fats" on their labels as long as there is less than .5 g per serving. So these companies are just making their serving sizes extremely small, but the trans fats are still in the foods! A lot of trans fats. You have to read the ingredients to find them though. Research shows that even the smallest amounts of these is bad for your heart. There is no minimal healthy amount you can eat. Not only do PHVO's raise your bad cholesterol, but they lower your good cholesterol.

The night I did all this reading I stayed up 'til 3am, going through our pantry and setting out every food that had PHVO's on the nutritional info. It was in a number of things, here's where it was mostly - microwave popcorn, cake mixes and frosting, instant hot chocolate, instant oatmeal, dehydrated soup, chips, stovetop stuffing, crackers, fish sticks, ice cream sandwiches. Mainly, it's in the foods that don't resemble foods so much any more. Lots of convenience foods. The most surprising find was in Quakers Heart Healthy Oatmeal. DH just about flipped his lid. I think he wants to sue!

It was his birthday this weekend, and he wouldn't touch a cake with all this stuff, so I found an organic cake mix and frosting mix and made it with butter instead of margarine. The frosting is sooo good, but the cake was a little dusty tasting. I will probably have to start making more things from scratch. I made the best ever blueberry muffins last weekend.

We're making slow progress, but we have a few hold-outs. My stick margarine is still in the fridge and DH put the stovetop stuffing back in the pantry. I have only used butter so far though, and I may try to learn to make stuffing from scratch. The hardest part I think will be the eating out. You just don't know what these places are putting in their food. I grilled six chicken breasts today and boiled some eggs and fried some bacon and I'm planning on having salads all week with carrots and cucumbers and maybe a little lettuce.

No spinach though. Pretty soon nothing will be safe to eat but what we've grown ourselves.

1 comment:

Lahdeedah said...

So you need to tell me, is margerine bad and butter good? Seriously, I need to know. I have borderline high cholesterol and don't want to check out because I didn't give up my Country Crock A La Evil Margerine....