If, like me, you’re
to eat healthily, then we both likely have to ’fess up.
Our efforts can be, well, ambivalent, to put it gently.
Catch me in a “clean food” mood and I
won’t want to even share the same table with any fats, including good ones like
olive oil. The same can go for sugar, with the exception, maybe, of some really
good dark chocolate or a piece of Dutch licorice or three. Then, whoops, before
you know it, there’s that ambivalence creeping around again.
So let’s get real. If you like to
sneak in a few good french fries once in a while or a nice little slice of,
say, Key lime pie, you’ll likely be as glad as I was to learn that the Chateau
Whistler — in fact, all the Fairmont hotels — have joined the city of New York
and other health-minded groups that are going trans fat-free.
Friday, the Fairmont will switch from
trans fat-based cooking oils, limiting
trans fat content to 0.2 grams per serving. All other products, such as
pastries and desserts, will be limited to a trans fat content of 0.5 grams per
serving by May 1.
To be clear, the Fairmont initiative
is aimed at artificial trans fats, not the natural ones found in meat and dairy
products. But just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s good.
All trans fats clog our arteries by
raising bad cholesterol and lowering healthy cholesterol, ultimately putting us
at greater risk for heart disease. Trans fat is also linked to type II
diabetes, breast cancer and, according to a new Harvard study, infertility in
women (see below).
But it’s artificial trans fat — the
stuff that comes from hydrogenating, or adding hydrogen to vegetable oils —
that’s the real monster, whether it’s fully or even partially hydrogenated.
About 95 per cent of all trans fats
the average person eats comes from artificial sources in the form of margarine,
fried foods (including fast foods), doughnuts pastries, packaged snacks — in
fact just about any processed food you eat will likely contain trans fat. Why?
Hydrogenating vegetable oil turns it
opaque and semi-solid. More importantly, it adds volume, meaning manufacturers
make more money from the same amount of oil. Plus it extends products’ shelf
life, meaning those commercial cookies, cereals, sauces, bad little doughnuts,
whatever, can be packaged, shipped, warehoused and finally sold to you weeks
and weeks after processing and they will still seem fresh — “seem” being the
operative word here.