A 'healthful' trans fat?
Researchers at my alma mater the University of Arkansas reportedly have developed a healthful trans fat. I figured that it wouldn’t take long. Money quote:
By juggling the molecular structure of soy oil, the team of scientists have developed a substance that is rich in conjugated linoleic acid.Andrew Proctor, professor of food science, and graduate student Vishal Jain claim that studies have shown that CLA can give the immune system a boost.
The two scientists have now used the converted oil to produce potato chips that contain high concentrations of CLA.
“It is still important to have a low fat diet and we do not propose increasing the fat intake, but a few chips will provide needed CLA,” said Proctor. [Italics in the original]
Jesus wept. There we go with the idea that fat is bad. He doesn’t propose increasing fat intake, and he recommends that people eat only a few of these chips. Do tell. I almost never eat potato chips, but when I do, I don’t eat just a few. I would assume that most people do the same.
He goes on.
“Our goal is to develop a popular food item that offers high concentrations of CLA without increasing saturated fat intake.
“Potato chips suit this purpose well. Subsequent studies may include development of high-CLA salad oils and dressings.”
Without increasing saturated fat, eh. We certainly need to worry about that.
What the article doesn’t address is what the particular isomers are of this converted from soy oil CLA. Isomers are different structural configurations of the same molecule. For example, your hands are what are called optical or stereo isomers–they are the mirror image of one another. The same thing holds with chemicals. There are two kinds of glucose, a left-handed glucose and a right-handed glucose. They are the mirror image of one another. The human body uses the right-handed version, d-glucose, but can’t use the left-handed l-glucose at all even though its chemical formula is exactly the same. Having the cells try to use l-glucose would be like trying to put your left hand into a right-hand glove.
Studies have shown health benefits accruing from the consumption of CLA (which is a substance produced by animals and found in meat and dairy), but only when the CLA is a specific isomer. The wrong isomers have been shown to cause problems or, at the very least, not be helpful.
I can see the world taking to this new, factory-produced CLA only to discover after a decade that it is an isomer that causes major health problems. Then will come the cries to ban it.