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Nutrition

Get excited about nutrition, and learn as you go with these information-packed resources on a wide variety of nutrition-centric topics! Our bistroMD experts review the importance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as how to make them work most efficiently for you.

Interesterified Fat Replacing Trans Fat

Fats have a bad reputation. The consumption of high fat foods is oftentimes related to obesity and chronic health conditions like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Not all fats are created equally. Can interesterified fat be a healthy trans fat replacement? Let's take a look.

Interesterified Fat Replacing Trans Fat


Fats have a bad reputation. The consumption of high fat foods is oftentimes related to obesity and chronic health conditions like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Not all fats are created equally, though, as some fats are needed in the diet more than others. Trans fat has been identified as the "bad guy" after contributing to cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cut trans fat in processed foods as a step to reduce and prevent the heart-related conditions with the extinction deadline in 2018. Interesterified fats emerged to substitute trans fat with hopes to reduce its associated health risks. Can interesterified fat be a healthy trans fat replacement? Let's take a look.

What Exactly Is Interesterified Fat?

Like trans fat, interesterified fat consists of the reconfiguration, or swapping and changing, of fatty acids. In both cases, shuffling of the fatty acids modifies the melting point, slows down rancidification, and creates a more suitable oil for frying. The interesterification of vegetable oils (soybean, palm, etc.) helps to reduce the saturated fat content of margarine without compromising its flavor and baking qualities. Below depicts a nutrition facts label found on a cookie package.

Notice anything missing? Although the total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat are provided, interesterified fat is nowhere to be found. The lacking fat component can leave individuals understandably misguided on whether or not Interesterification should replace trans fat or consumed altogether. For now, the recommended limit is unknown and unclear. Although interesterified fat has not gained the attention the way trans fat has, studies have remained consistent in its health risks. Conclusive evidence supports its intake can raise blood sugar, lower "good" cholesterol and elevate "bad" cholesterol, and increase the risk of heart disease.

The Bottom Line

The body does in fact need fat with dietary guidelines recommending healthy adults obtaining 25 to 35 percent of total calories from it. However, the type and amount of fat matters most. The American Heart Association suggests saturated fat should comprise less than seven percent of total daily caloric intake while trans fat is recommended to be less than one percent. As a general guideline, choose foods with small to none saturated fat and trans fat identified in the nutrition label. In the ingredients list, try to stray away from vegetable oils. Ideally, monounsaturated (MUFAs), polyunsaturated (PUFAs), and omega-3 fatty acids should be chosen. The reduction of vegetable oils and margarine and the implementation of nuts, seeds, and fish can improve cholesterol and lipid levels while decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

References:
Know Your Fats. American Heart Association.

The Scary Truth About What Will Replace Trans Fat. MSN.

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