On your next grocery store run, be aware of interesterified oils lurking in your baked goods and snack foods. These oils were developed to take the place of heart-harming trans fats, but research has shown they do just as much, if not more, damage to the body.

How did interesterified oils end up in our food?

As food producers looked for ways to create products for the health-conscious shopper in the 1970s, interesterified oils were introduced without much research on their effects on the body. When these oils are processed, the fatty acids are rearranged chemically and combined with the fat found in chocolate to improve the texture and taste of the product. These oils have been in food products for decades, touted as a healthier alternative to trans fats.

The problem with interesterified oils

In recent years, research has pointed out the dangers of these fats. A study published in the January 15, 2007 issue of Nutrition Metabolism found that interesterified fats and trans fats had similar, negative effects. Both increased total cholesterol raised “bad” LDL cholesterol and lowered “good” HDL cholesterol.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, interesterified soybean oil promotes weight gain, increases liver stress, and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by raising fasting blood glucose levels and decreasing insulin response.

What products have these oils?

When reading food labels, look for “interesterified oil” or “fully hydrogenated oil.”

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