August 22, 2007

In The News: "Healthier" Deep Fried?

I came across an interesting article this past weekend. So, the big news is that the Indiana State Fair banned trans fats! Golf claps.

Pardon my lack of enthusiasm, but this ban on trans fats isn’t such great news considering that their menu consists of fried Snickers bars, fried Oreos, and fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. You can even get all of the above in one frightening combo platter!

What’s particularly disturbing about this article is that Cindy Hoye, executive director of the fair is quoted as saying, “this was an issue we wanted to tackle.” How this woman managed to keep a straight face as she said that in reference to a fair that deep fries candy bars beats me.

Let’s review for a second.

The sole reason behind banning trans fats (also known as “partially hydrogenated oils”) was that their consumption has been linked to an increase in “bad” cholesterol and a decrease in “good” cholesterol. This translates to an increased risk of developing heart disease.

Food manufacturers didn’t want to hear this because they love the shelf stability trans fats provide.

Nuts and seeds, for example, are mostly made up of polyunsaturated fats. These fats become rancid fairly quickly, which is why you can tell when you’ve bitten into an old almond.

However, baked goods made with trans fats (i.e: cookies) can be on shelves and unrefrigerated for months on end without a change in quality or taste.

While going trans-fat free can healthier than eating foods containing partially hydrogenated oils (I say “can” because butter and lard are high in saturated fats, which also increase our risk of heart disease and heart attacks) keep in mind that all oils are the same as far as calories are concerned.

A tablespoon of oil contains 120 calories, whether you’re talking corn, olive, soybean, trans-fat-full or trans-fat-free.

When you’re at the point where you’re eating deep fried candy bars, there are bigger concerns than whether the oil they are fried in is trans-fat-free.

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