I have been on a health kick lately. Part of my new program is to eat better, or at least eat less bad food. (I consider my consumption of a Bratwurst sausage and french fries the other day to be a total outlier of my new regime. But we were having a weekend at Leavenworth, WA, a town done up in a Bavarian theme. I left my liederhosen at home this time.)
The obvious items in my crosshairs are fat, dietary cholesterol, and refined carbs. A case in point is peanut butter which I wrote about in a previous blog post where I compared the nutrition information between Skippy and Trader Joes. At the time, I noticed that Skippy’s label said “zero trans fats”, yet the ingredients included “hydrogenated oils”. I thought that hydrogenated oils are trans fats, but apparently, the FDA let the Skippy folks off the hook based on such a low amount of hydrogenated oils used. However, if one eats more than one serving, you will consume an unhealthy amount of trans fats. Meanwhile, my wife bought a new jar of Skippy and it no longer claims to be trans fat free. Instead, they point out that each serving contains “7 grams of natural protein”. Someone must have called them out on the trans-fat-free claim.
But all this got me wondering about hydrogenated oils and trans fats, and in my googling around, I discovered that sometimes, hydrogenated oils are trans fats, sometimes they’re not, and there are different kinds of trans fats that aren’t bad for you, supposedly, based on what they do to increase/decrease HDL/LDL. Confused? You bet!
Then there is the issue of rapeseed oil. Rapeseed oil has been used historically as an industrial lubricant, and it wasn’t until a hybrid variety called Canola oil was invented that rapeseed oil became widely used for human and feedlot consumption. “Canola”, by the way, is an acronym for “Canadian Oilseed, Low-Acid”, meaning low in erucic acid. A link between erucic acid and autism has been found, so Canola at least is better than rapeseed in that regard. However, some studies indicate that Canola oil, while low in erucic acid, not only contains trans fats, but is shown to increase the levels of the bad cholesterol, LDL.
Notice I put “some studies” in italics? That’s because other folks say that Canola is the healthiest oil of all, especially to cook with, since it won’t break down as quickly when it is heated, unlike olive oil, which releases toxins as soon as it starts smoking.
All to say, I’m conflicted. I have a bottle of Canola and Olive oil blend to prove it. Canola still concerns me because it is by far the most-consumed vegetable oil today. And rapeseed is now being used for biodiesel production. Think about it.
Meanwhile, I have moved on from “healthy” Trader Joes peanut butter to raw almond butter ever since I found out that peanuts are not nuts at all and contain a toxic fungus. I fear that I am becoming such a nutritional buzz kill that I will eating nothing but grass soon. Of course, I will need to make sure it isn’t a genetically modified Roundup-resistant variety.