|The Weston A. Price Foundation
| Contact: Sally Fallon Morell, President
Rebuttal to Sokolov on Trans Fats
Published as a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2006
Mr. Sokolov’s defense of trans fats (July 27, 2006) misses several important points. Trans fats in Crisco and other vegetable shortenings are cheap and do indeed increase the shelf life of processed foods, but the scientific evidence continues to show that they contribute to a myriad of health problems, shortening human life and exacting a heavy toll in health costs.
Trans fats inhibit cell membrane function, interfere with the enzyme systems the body needs to eliminate carcinogens and toxins (thus contributing to cancer), inhibit insulin receptors (causing type 2 diabetes) and decrease hormone production (leading to infertility). Most tragically, trans fats in the diet of pregnant women contribute to low birth weight babies and inhibit visual and neurological function; they lower fat content in mothers milk and depress learning ability, particularly in situations of stress.
Mr. Sokolov argues that trans fats are just as likely as other fats to make us fat. But recent research from Wake Forest University indicates that trans fats are more likely to cause weight gain than other fats (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=45100). Furthermore, when manufacturers use trans fats for frying, more fat ends up in the food. Food fried in trans fats is much greasier than food fried in saturated animal fat such as tallow or lard.
The food industry justifies the use of trans fats with the claim that the alternative, saturated fats, raise cholesterol and contribute to heart disease. This premise is completely false. Before the introduction of trans fats into the food supply, Americans consumed large amounts of saturated fat in butter, lard, tallow, coconut oil and palm oil, yet myocardial infarction (heart attack) was unknown. Today, the European countries with the highest level of saturated fat consumption (France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Iceland, Belgium, Finland and Austria) have the lowest rates of heart disease and the countries with the lowest level of saturated fat consumption (Ukraine, Macedonia, Croatia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Georgia) have the highest rates of heart disease. Saturated animal fats provide many nutrients that protect our most important muscle, the heart, including cholesterol, which is vital to the function of our muscles. A recent study found that saturated fats can actually reverse atherosclerosis (Am J Clin Nutr 80 2004 1175-84).
Mr. Sokolov is right when he asserts that people will continue to eat fried food and all of us will continue to pay for soaring health costs when that food is fried in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Liquid polyunsaturated vegetable oils are not a good alternative as they become dangerously rancid when heated, hence the unpleasant taste. The appropriate action for the Chicago City Council and other government agencies is to encourage a return to stable, healthy saturated fats such as palm oil, coconut oil, tallow and lard in processed and fried foods.
Mary G. Enig, PhD, President
The Maryland Nutritionists Association
Sally Fallon, President
The Weston A. Price Foundation