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Damaged/Altered (Toxic) Fats and Oils

Much of our Dietary Unsaturated fat is toxic by being Damaged or Altered

If the temperature of a fat or oil is increased beyond its melting point enough to cause smoking, the molecular structure of the oil will change and a number of toxic molecular isomers will be produced in the oil - remaining even after the oil cools down and/or resolidifies.

-   The temperatures where this damage occurs is about half the temperatures reached in the refining and hydrogenation processes of fats and oils - these processes destroy all of the nutritional value of our fats and oils for the sake of an extremely long shelf life - some virtually unspoilable, “forever” foods. (Think Twinkies®);

-   Most people are now aware of the presence of trans fats, but general use of this term refers to a slew of altered/toxic fats, NONE OF WHICH OCCUR IN NATURE - including cross-linked fatty acids, oxidized fatty acids, double-bond shifted fatty acids, fat-derived polymers, fat oxidation products, and others. Technically, trans fats are only one form of malformed fats.

Primary sources of damaged fatty acids :

✔ Refined, high-temperature extracted, antioxidant-poor, typical grocery-store, vegetable seed oils (with high Omega-6 content) , and processed foods containing these oils - typical grocery store oils contain 0.5 to 1.0% damaged, extremely toxic molecules (although this seems like a small percentage, according to calculations by fat expert Dr. Udo Erasmus, this is more than enough to have harmful health consequences).

✔ Foods fried in predominately unsaturated oils

✔ Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated unsaturated oils, and products containing them.

How are Oils containing Unsaturated Fats Damaged/Altered ?

Unsaturated oils (E.g. olive, corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, peanut, and sesame oils) are damaged mostly by:

✔ HYDROGENATION (hardening) -E.g. ;


✔ THE EXTRACTION PROCESS USED TO PRODUCE REFINED OILS -i.e. the typical grocery store oils in clear plastic bottles.

Commercial Seed/Nut/Bean Oil Production Methods

There are basically two methods of producing commercial edible oil -the expeller-press method and solvent extraction.In either method, keep in mind that the oil will be damaged if it is exposed to air, light or heat. Of these three, light is the most damaging, causing rancidity 1000 times more rapidly than oxygen.

Nuts, Seeds, Beans

(cleaned, hulled)

Fragrant and nutritious - containing EFAs, protein, minerals, vitamins, fiber,amino acids, lecithin, chlorophyll, phytosterols +





(~248 °F, ~2 hours)

Cracks seed


PRESS (185-203 °F)

(Oil mechanically squeezed out)

Removes protein, fiber, some minerals/vitamins

ADD then EVAPORATE SOLVENT (dissolves oil)

Usually using hexane or heptane (gasoline)

Can leave up to 100 parts per million of solvent in oil.

Expeller-pressed, unrefined oil

Still contains EFAs, Oil soluble vitamins, Lecithin, Phytosterols, Some minerals +

These unrefined oils are not rancid if

protected from air during extraction process, and will remain fresh for a long time if stored in the refrigerator in dark bottles.


Using water and phosphoric acid.

Removes phospholipids (incl. beneficial lecithin), chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper


Oil mixed with caustic soda (aka. Drano®), then separated.

Removes free fatty acids, minerals





Filters (such as Fuller's earth) remove pigments

Removes beta-carotene, flavor compounds.

Introduces PEROXIDES (free radicals) or altered fatty acids


> 320 °F tFAs begin to form

> 392 °F tFAs form substantially

> 428 °F tFAs form exponentially


DEODORIZING (428-473 °F, 30-60 mins.)

Steam distillation removes vitamin E, aromatic oils, free fatty acids. Also removes peroxides and unpleasant odors and tastes introduced by processing.

High Heat forms TRANS FATTY ACIDS (tFAs) and other altered, unnatural unsaturated fatty acids


Unsaturated fatty acids become mutagenic (i.e. can damage our genes) when heated above 320 °F


Tasteless, Vitamin/Mineral/Antioxidant Deficient, containing 0.5-1% MUTAGENIC unsaturated fatty acids


Light /Oxygen /Heat Exposure Oxidizes Unsaturated Oils

Peroxidation and Rancidity -Oil is damaged when oxygen combines with the weak carbon bonds of its unsaturated fatty acids, causing them to break apart into fragments, called lipid PEROXIDES, which produce free radicals. A created free radical, with its unpaired electron, starts a chain reaction which can propagate hundreds of thousands more free radicals and possible broken double carbon bonds, ultimately causing the oil to become rancid.

-   Light can increase peroxidation rate by up to 1000 times

-   Lipid peroxidation uses up fat-soluble, free-radical protecting, antioxidant supplies in the body (E.g. vitamins A, D, Eand K).

Hydrogenation Process produces artificially saturated fats and partially hydrogenated fats (E.g. Trans fats)

Hydrogenation (saturation) of unsaturated oils retards or eliminates the potential for these oils to go rancid for several years, makes a product “stiffer”, and also provides spreadability, texture and “mouth feel”- unsaturated fats exposed to light, heat or air otherwise tend to oxidize and go rancid easily.

Hydrogenation is a commercial chemical process - patented in Germany in 1902, hydrogenation decreases the number of double bonds in unsaturated fatty acids of predominately unsaturated oils, such as soybean, corn or sunflower oil, these fully refined oils are then heated to high temperatures (248°-410°F) with metal catalysts, usually nickel or 50/50 nickel/aluminum, in the presence of pressurized hydrogen gas. (The aluminum is a concern since its presence in the body is associated with Alzheimer's, osteoporosis + more). This enables the hydrogen to be added into (i.e. saturate) the double bonds of the unsaturated fatty acids, and since they then contain no double bonds, makes them relatively chemically inert.

Hydrogenated FAtty Acid

Hydrogenated fats also contain partially hydrogenated fats, such as trans fats - because the hydrogenation process never achieves 100% efficiency, leaving some partially hydrogenated (altered/toxic) fats.

Foods containing hydrogenated fats - include margarine, shortening (E.g. Crisco®)

Partial Hydrogenation produces Altered/toxic Fatty Acids (E.g. Trans Fats)

Fully saturated fats are usually too waxy and solid to add to food processing steps -so manufacturers typically require partially hydrogenated oils, for which the hydrogenation process is stopped when the oil has the proper consistency for its application. This process is used to make products like chocolate, "hard enough to melt in your mouth, but not in your hand!" Unfortunately, the partial hydrogenation process also results in the presence of dozens of altered, intermediate substances including trans fats, conjugated fatty acids, double bond isomers (double bonds relocated to new, unnatural positions) and fatty acid fragments.

A NATURAL, unsaturated fatty acid is in what is called the CIS configuration - with the hydrogen atoms at a double bond on the same side of the molecule. This lack of symmetry forces a kink or bend in the carbon chain

CIS Fatty Acid

A TRANS configuration fatty acid is produced by heat-processing during hydrogenation, frying in unsaturated oils, and the high temperatures in the oil refining process - when a hydrogen atom TRANSfers to the other side of the fatty acid molecule. The TRANS configuration fatty acid has only a slight kink in its carbon chain. tFAs begin to form above 320°F, and form in substantial quantities above 392 °F.

Trans Fatty Acid

High levels of 30-50% trans fatty acids are commonly found in these oils

Highly processed oils - such as margarine, shortening

Oils used for repeated frying - in restaurants oils (called "liquid shortening")

✔ "Partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils" - found in typical ready-made french fries and many packaged goods.

E.g. Commercially processed foods/ Foods with a long shelf-life - such as cookies, cakes, crackers, bread, candies, most peanut butter, pancake mixes, instant soups, chocolate, some salad dressings, junk foods, chips, croutons, granola bars.

Saturated Fats mistakenly given the Bad Rap of Hydrogenated Fat

In the 1940's, researchers found a strong correlation between cancer and the consumption of fat. However, the fats used were hydrogenated fats, although the results were presented as though the culprit were saturated fats. Saturated fats were usually lumped together with hydrogenated fats in the various U.S. data bases that researchers used to correlate dietary trends with disease conditions. Thus, natural saturated fats were “tarred with the black brush”of unnatural, hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Health Effects of Trans Fatty Acids (tFAs)

Increased shelf life traded for fatty acid toxicity and reduced health benefits Processed oils in "food" products certainly provide those foods a very long shelf-life, but the trade-off is that virtually all of the health benefits of their EFAs are eliminated, and worse, the processing produces altered fatty acids with the following effects on health:

Oxygen-Attracting Electrons are Gone - They no longer contain double carbon bonds with their electron clouds, and yet the body still “plugs" them into our cell membranes. However, without the negative charge in the membranes:

-   Our cells cannot attract oxygen and start to "suffocate" - eventually reverting to a primitive, inefficient, anaerobic method of energy production, called fermentation.

-   The ability to make the fats water-soluble (by incorporating protein) has been removed

Cell membranes become malformed and do not function properly - Altered fats are like keys which "fit into, but do not turn in the locks" of membranes and enzyme systems, impeding the process of letting nutrition in, and letting waste out of cells.

-   At the molecular level, altered fatty acids can be held responsible for many common degenerative diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular diseases - as cellular operation is impaired in the brain, nervous system, hormonal messaging, and immune system.

-   Lack of membrane integrity allows unwelcome substances to have more favorable access to cells - such as allergens, undigested proteins, viruses and potential carcinogens:

✔ In lung cells - lowers oxygen intake.

✔ In GI tract - makes you more allergic to things you eat, viruses and carcinogens have an easier inroad from food.

✔ Cells in general - are less able to process insulin, absorb oxygen, acquire nutrients or dispose of waste.

-   tFAs incorporate into brain cell membranes and the myelin sheath insulating the neurons - This alters the ability of neuron communication, causing diminished mental performance and neural degenerative disorders such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, M.S., which exhibit membrane loss of fatty acids.

tFAs are Bad for your Heart

-  tFAs raise LDL and triglycerides and lower HDL cholesterol - The net increase in LDL/HDL ratio with tFAs is approximately double that due to saturated fat, and Harvard university researchers determined that those who ate partially hydrated oils had double the risk of heart attack of those who didn't. (tFAs block the liver's normal conversion of cholesterol to bile, contributing to higher blood cholesterol levels).

-   tFAs increase C-reactive protein indicative of arterial inflammation

-   tFAs raise blood levels of atherogenic lipoprotein(a)

"By our most conservative estimate, replacement of partially hydrogenated fat in the U.S. diet with natural, unhydrogenated vegetable oils would prevent approximately 30,000 premature coronary deaths per year, and epidemiologic evidence suggests this number is closer to 100,000 premature deaths annually."

- Top Nutritionists at Harvard

tFAs Interfere with EFA Functions - they prevent the body from making good use of what few good EFAs youmay be getting. By interfering with conversion enzymes, tFAs enhance the body's pro-inflammatory prostaglandin (PGE2) and inhibit the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (PGE1 and PGE3). This can produce detrimental changes in allergic reaction, blood pressure, clotting, cholesterol levels, hormone activity, immune function and inflammatory response.

tFAs Cause Fat Deposits around Belly - researchers at Wake Forest University found that tFAs increase the amount of fat around the belly. They do this not just by adding new fat, but also by moving fat from other areas to the belly.

tFAs are partially responsible for Type II diabetes (characterized by high levels of INSULIN and glucose in your blood) - by causing cells to become resistant to the effects of INSULIN by inhibiting INSULIN receptors:

-   Monkey study says yes

Trans Fat Diet Induces Abdominal Obesity and Changes in Insulin Sensitivity in Monkeys, 2007; Study:Trans-fats increase fatness, Insulin resistance, Risk of diabetes.

-   Rat study says no - however, tFAs reduced cellular energy production;

Study: Ingestion of trans-fatty acids by rats does not affect insulin sensitivity;

-   Dairy study on obese women says no

Dairy and industrial sources of trans fat do not impair peripheral insulin sensitivity in overweight women, 2009, Amer. J. Clin Nutr.

The apparent conflict in results may be explained by the non-availability of sufficient omega-3 - it seems that tFAs and short/medium chain length saturated fats are ONLY substituted in cell membranes when there is an insufficiency of dietary omega-3 fat. The result is to affect the transport of glucose into the cell. For more detail, see:

Metabolic syndrome / Type 2 Diabetes

A Sad legacy for our Children - In a Canadian study of 198 lactating mothers, the fatty acids in their milk averaged 7.2% <>trans fats, from partially hydrogenated fats consumed by the mother!

Health Effects of Hydrogenated Fat

Hydrogenation Leaves damaging metal residue - a side-effect of hydrogenation is that a residue of the catalytic metals (usually nickel or aluminum) is left behind in the finished product. These toxic metals accumulate in our cells and nervous system where they poison enzyme systems, alter cellular functions and increase free radical damage, causing various health problems

Hydrogenated fat Consumption is Associated with Many Diseases - cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, immune system dysfunction, low-birth-weight babies, birth defects, decreased visual acuity, sterility, difficulty in lactation and problems with bones and tendons.

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