The more society insists that foods be cheaper and widely available in any store at any time, the more people travel down the road of deteriorating health. As long as low cost and convenience reign supreme in our food choices, people are destined to inhale processed foods for the rest of their lives.
However, once one understands some of the processes used to create these products, the stomach just may turn a little. This is certainly the case with three modern fat processing methods, which have been ruining the nation’s health for decades.
In the old days, oils from nuts, seeds and fruits were extracted by slow-moving stone presses. Today, these oils are processed in large factories by crushing the oil-bearing seeds and heating them to 230-degrees Celsius. The oil is then squeezed out under immense pressure (10-20 tons per inch), which generates more heat. During this process the oils are also exposed to damaging light and oxygen.
If this weren’t bad enough, in order to extract the last 10 percent of the oil from the crushed seeds, processors treat the pulp with solvents, usually hexane. This solvent is then boiled off, but up to 100 ppm may remain in the oil. Not only are these solvents toxic but they also retain the pesticides sticking to the seeds and grains before the processing even begins.
This high-temperature processing causes the weak bonds of unsaturated fatty acids to break apart, creating dangerous free radicals. To add insult to injury, high temperatures and pressures destroy antioxidants such as vitamin E, which protect the body from free radicals. To make matters even worse, BHT and BHA are often added to these oils to replace the natural preservatives that were destroyed by the heat.
A bit more recognized, hydrogenation turns polyunsaturated trans fats that are normally liquid at room temperature into fats that are solid at room temperature. Prime examples of this process are margarine and shortening.
To make these oils, manufactures start with the cheapest oils on the market, typically soy, corn, cottonseed, or canola (which are already rancid from the extraction process) and mix them with tiny metal particles like nickel oxide. The oil with this nickel catalyst are then exposed to hydrogen gas in a high pressure, high temperature reactor. Following that, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed into the mixture for better consistency and it is then subjected to high temperatures again to be steam-cleaned in order to remove its unpleasant odor.
Finally, since the margarine is now a very unappetizing grey color, bleach is used to remove it. Dyes and strong flavors are then added to make it look like butter, and it is then packaged and marketed to appear healthy.
This is a process where the fat particles of cream are strained through tiny pores under great pressure (4000 lbs. per square inch), which results in the fat particles being so small they stay in suspension rather than rising to the top. This makes the fat and cholesterol more vulnerable to rancidity and oxidation, and research suggests that these homogenized fats may contribute to heart disease.
As a result of this process, certain proteins can bypass the digestive process instead of being broken down for proper assimilation. Once in the bloodstream, these unaltered proteins can trigger autoimmune diseases like diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Unfortunately, these methods are not out of the ordinary. It’s part of the reason people accept sickness as healthy, because eating toxins has become normal.