A New Perspective

15 Sep

I like to think of myself as a pretty informed person, one who knows things that are going on in the world and can discuss them easily. I also love to eat. The combination of these two things means that I’m pretty much up to date on what’s going on in the food world. I know that fiber is good, as are complex carbs, and that trans fats are bad, as is high fructose corn syrup. I want to focus on trans fats today, because I just had a very informative and insightful Biology lecture about them.

Let’s start from the beginning. What is a fat? A fat is a lipid, which is just a type of macromolecule commonly found in animals and humans. Now we need fat to survive. It keeps us warm, and (God forbid) we are ever in a starvation situation–we have a back up store of energy. We all know that there are different types of fats, and this is what’s important.

The three main types of fats are saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats. Now, most people know that saturated fats and trans fats are bad. But why? Saturated fats are in fact, saturated, that is with hydrogen molecules. Saturated fats consist of cheese, butter, and essentially anything animal based. Since the body tends to almost always take the path of least resistance, it will break down the saturated fats only when it needs to. That means it’s going to break down everything else you ingest before it touches those saturated fats. Not exactly good right?

What is ideal for our bodies, is unsaturated fat. That would be your oils and such. Since they have less hydrogen attached to each carbon, the body is able to break down the compounds far more easily. The problem with unsaturated fats, is well, who wants to spread canola oil on their toast in the morning? Not me. So scientists looked for a way to get all the benefits of unsaturated fats in the usability (and taste) or saturated fats.

Enter in margarine. Through a process called hydrogenation, a unsaturated fat is taken and blasted with hydrogen gas. The thinking behind this is that one could achieve the best of both worlds. However, a new thing was created. Trans fats. Trans fats are a double whammy to the body because they not only raise bad cholesterol, the lower the good kind. Yikes. Plus, it’s even harder for the body to break down than saturated fats.

Well, people caught wind of the whole issue with the trans fats and now products must display how much trans fats they contain. However, be warned. If you are someone who has a large issue with trans fats (ie. someone with a history of high cholesterol), that 0 doesn’t always mean 0. The limitations set forward by the FDA for a company to declare 0g trans fats is .5g. That means if the product has .4999999g of trans fats, they can call it 0g. Now, for every now and then, it’s not a big deal.

But if you’re baking and cooking and eating margarine all the time, it might be something to be concerned about. The easy way to tell is to read the ingredient list for the term “partially hydrogenated”, and if that’s in there then there are trans fats present.

Now I’m just a high school student in a Biology course, so always consult doctors and such when making dietary changes.

Whew, that was a lot! But, I felt that it was really interesting. (For me at least!) Now, on to the eats! I went to dinner at the big cafeteria on campus today, so I got my dinner in stages.

Stage 1: Salad with carrots, red onion, lettuce, and a drizzle of Ranch. (I’m adventurous I know.) Served with a ratatouille panini with provolone. Enjoyed with a Diet Pepsi.

Inside the panini was squash and zucchini, and onions perhaps?

Stage 2: Some pasta in tomato-cheese sauce with mini-meatballs. I had to try it.

Honestly, this wasn't great. But I was still a bit hungry, and pasta almost always sounds good to me.

Stage 3 doesn’t have a picture. It was some fro-yo topped with a sprinkle of butterfinger and a few chocolate chips. So yummy. After dinner and class, I went to a new Pilates class and got my stretch on. I actually had a really good time and I definitely think I’ll be feeling it tomorrow morning! Post Pilates I got a three-berry smoothie from the place right outside my dorm. I have mentioned that I have a coffee shop right outside my dorm right? It’s an issue. Except right before my early morning classes. Then it’s a blessing.

Well bloggers and bloggettes, it’s about time for me to hit the hay. After I read a thirty page play. Gotta love college!

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