If there is only one thing you do for your health — and your weight — it should be this: Give up partially hydrogenated oils, and boycott any products that contain them — not only for yourself, but for the positive impact it will have on everyone’s health and weight problems.
Originally published 2000
Why Should You Boycott Partially Hydrogenated Oils?
Partially hydrogenated oils may well be the number one cause of obesity and degenerative disease in society today, due to the high levels of bio-destructive trans fats they contain. Listen to what the experts say:
“Research has shown that transfatty acids contribute to impaired cellular function, clogged arteries, and degenerative disease….they are believed to interfere with the body’s ability to efficiently process good fats….Unfortunately, hydrogenated fats contain the harmful transfatty acids associated with accelerated aging and degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer.”
–Ann Louise Gittleman, Eat Fat, Lose Weight, pg. 9
“The best solution is to decrease saturated fats and avoid transfats.“
–Dr. Frank Hu, Harvard School of Public Health, New England Journal Of Medicine, November 1997 (emphasis added)
The science is clear, and has been known for more than a decade now. But, like the tobacco companies, many of the large commercial food producers will give you short term satisfaction, as long as you’re willing to pay, regardless of the long term consequences. By eliminating partially hydrogenated oils from your diet, you will not only make dramatic improvements in your health profile, you will also be sending a clear economic message to the food producers in this country (the only message they seem to care about).
What Are Partially Hydrogenated Oils?
In the hydrogenation process, hydrogen gas is bubbled through vegetable oils at very high temperatures. The result is a semi-solid fat with the texture and consistency of butter, only much cheaper, which accounts for its popularity in industries that are more concerned with profit than with the health of the consumer. Partially hydrogenated oils are used in many bakery products, including bread and cookies. It is also used in many dairy substitutes and some candies. They can sneak in anywhere flavor and texture are desired, including some soups and other products where you would least expect it.
What Makes Partially Hydrogenated Oils So Bad?
The hydrogenation process produces “trans fats” which are, quite literally, metabolic poisons. The trans fats interfere with cellular function, and prevent our bodies from acquiring the essential fatty acids that are so critical for health.
Here’s what happens:
The chemically active part of fatty acid molecules are warped by the high heat processing. It’s the chemically active end of the molecule that transports oxygen and nutrients through the cell walls. They are also responsible for nerve system impulses, hormone activity, and brain function. But the chemically inactive portion is unchanged — and that is the part that is attached to the cell wall. In nature, fats occur only in very specific configurations. Millions of years of evolution have left the body unprepared to recognize and eliminate trans fats, because they never existed in any significant quantity, until now. Trans fats, like a low-level cyanide, act as metabolic poisons, becoming part of, and interfering with, natural bodily functions.
Here is a partial list of the diseases and degenerative conditions that trans fats are likely to be implicated in: allergies, asthma, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, cancer, candida, chronic fatigue, diabetes, eczema, heart attacks, multiple sclerosis, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, psoriasis, ulcers….
What Can I Do?
- Read food labels! If you see the words “partially hydrogenated oil”, avoid it.
- If it’s in your pantry, throw it away. Don’t give it away, and don’t eat it. Throw it out!
- If it’s in the store, don’t buy it. Even more importantly, put it back on the shelves in a way that tells
your neighbors what it contains — updside down and backwards! (For more about how that works,
and why, read How to Carry on An Effective Boycott.)
- Get the word out!
- Tell a friend. Make a copy of this flyer and give it to your neighbors.
- Place copies of the poster on the bulletin board at the office, the gym, the health food store, and even the supermarket!
- Email this page to a friend, or tweet it.
- Avoid fast foods! Fried foods are fried in partially hydrogenated oils. They absorb 50% more fat, and half of that fat is trans fat. Every fast food bread in the country is made with partially hydrogenated oils. Unless the establishment has a banner that says “Zero Trans Fats”, pick your foods very, very carefully.
- Get the Fat Facts poster — an 8-1/2 x 11″ poster that tells you what you need to know about fats — the most critical nutrient for the human body! This freely distributable poster is available at http://treelight.com/health/nutrition/fat-facts
- Educate yourself! Start with these articles: What’s Wrong with Partially Hydrogenated Oils?, Killing for Profit, Why Nutritional Healing is Effective.
- Contact the FDA at http://www.fda.gov/comments.html to say that you have joined the boycott, and ask why they haven’t banned this pernicious substance.
- Find a lawyer interested in initiating a class-action lawsuit.
- Practice Social Judo. Ask a tobacco company executive why they aren’t shifting the blame for cancer to food producers, since research shows that missing or bad fats lead to cancer, and that good fats have been shown to protect against known carcinogens in controlled studies!
- Talk to your political representatives. Make them responsible, and they’ll be responsive.
- Tell the food companies what you’re doing. Ask them why they have been selling this stuff when the science has been clear for more than 30 years. Tell them you have a big black mark next to their name, and that you prefer to buy from manufacturers who have a track-record of selling healthy foods — companies who have demonstrated that they deserve your trust. And tell them, oh by the way, you’re on the alert for High Fructose Corn Syrup, and the many disguised forms of MSG, as well.
Why Isn’t the Government Doing Something?
The fact is, we need Surgeon General Everett Koop, who spearheaded the attack on tobacco. Unlike many in government, he went where the science led and was undissuaded by other influences. Tobacco companies were ultimately held responsible. “Food” producers should be held accountable, too.
Were Surgeon General Koop in office today, he may well have reached the same conclusion that many leading nutritionists and scientists have come to — that it is time to launch a concerted attack on the purveyors of pernicious indigestible substances like partially hydrogenated oils. Until we find such a champion, the best action you can take is to become “a movement of one”, and do your part to eradicate partially hydrogenated oils from our food supply.
Start your boycott today!
Epilogue: 2004/2005 Progress Report
The boycott is well underway! Here’s what’s happening:
- A tremendous site devoted to information, political action, and legal action. They even had the brains to support their efforts with a T-SHIRT. Gots to get me one!
- This site contains links to books and articles on trans fats, a list of products that contain partially hydrogenated oils, and fast food chains that use those oils.
- A site that is currently taking McDonald’s to task for not making good on their promise to eliminate trans fats in their stores by 2003.
- Lots of links to additional information, with names of products and companies that include trans fats in their products.
- Sells trans fat free cooking oils to restaurants and retail
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