Saturday, November 9, 2013

Will the new trans fat law start a Peanut Butter war?

   I sure hope so! It is no secret - I am a fan of 'truly' all natural peanut butter.  When I say truly, I mean that the ingredients written on the label, if you didn't churn it yourself at a whole foods store, are simply: peanuts, and sometimes salt.  It is also no secret that Smuckers All Natural peanut butter is my favorite.  I have blogged about it numerous times and even made a You Tube video showing the world how to stir it.
    The reason a truly natural peanut butter needs to be stirred is that at room temperature, the oil will separate.  Peanut oil is NOT a solid fat.  In order to make it solid, it has to be hydrogenated, or in some cases, a solid fat is added to the peanut butter  - like palm or coconut oil (called oil only because they are plant based).  Palm, coconut and palm kernel oil is the same type of fat as beef or butter fat - it is almost 100% solid (saturated) fat.
   Trans fats are bad fats - not in excess, but period - in any amount (according to research reviewed by the FDA).  A trace amount of trans fat occurs naturally, but most trans fats are created in the process used to make unsaturated fats stay solid at room temperature and to make them last longer. [an example of when this process has been applied is when peanut butter is on a store shelf and the peanut oil has not separated - it isn't floating on the top.]
   The FDA is now banning all trans fats because they have been found to lower good cholesterol (HDL), raise bad cholesterol(LDL) - both of which are linked to heart disease, and to independently (whether you have high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol or normal cholesterol) increase the risk of heart disease.
   So begins the peanut butter war - I predict.  Currently, trans fats are allowed in products, except that nice ban in NYC restaurant foods.  And under current law, if a product contains less than .5 grams of trans fat, the label can say 0 trans fat per serving.  WELL.  The FDA says no amount of trans fat is considered safe.  There is no safe dose.  Just like there is no safe dose of lead. (Besides that - those little .4 grams of trans fat we consume unknowingly from multiple products can add up in a day!)  
   Therefore, when the law takes effect (and no I am not holding my breath), food companies will not be able to claim zero trans fat when they are providing nearly half a gram because they can't sell a product that contains ANY synthetic trans fats.  Hence, I bet those "all natural" but surprising solid at room temperature "no need to stir!" brands of peanut butter, are going to disappear.  I say, 'good riddance.'
    And in the meantime, keep reading those ingredients labels.  Your peanut butter does not need added oils, peanuts have their OWN oil and that is what makes all natural peanut butter natural - the peanuts - and just the peanuts.

If you missed those past posts on the different brands of peanut butter and how the labels can be misleading, click here. If you only have time for one of those posts, I recommend this one, which explains why you have to stir the peanut butter and why that is a good thing.
I am not going to share the You Tube link, though you can find it easily enough.  Some people got into a comments free- for- all about my stirring the peanut butter and said some things I wouldn't want my mother to see!  Still, people should be able to say what they feel (even smart asses) - so I left the posts up.

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