The FDA and other government agencies have come down hard on trans fatty acids lately. You've probably noticed that a lot of corn and potato chips now say "0 trans fats." New York City recently banned trans fats from restaurants. And other cities are following their lead. This is a great move, as I've said many times that trans fats are killers. They wreak all kinds of havoc on your body. But these restaurants, in their scramble to find a replacement, are now using something that's just as bad as trans fats - and could be much worse!

The replacement most food producers are rushing to use instead is "interesterified" fats. Interesterification is a process that enriches fat molecules with stearic acid, a relatively stable fatty acid. It's stable because it is saturated and relatively resistant to heat and oxidation, as are trans fats. But stable doesn't mean healthy.

In fact, a new study shows that this kind of fat substantially increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Researchers in Malaysia and at Brandeis University found that interesterified fats hinder your body's ability to metabolize fat and cholesterol (which can cause weight gain). It also hinders your ability to metabolize insulin. Both of these are known factors in diabetes and heart disease.

Study author K.C. Hayes notes, "In this study, we discovered that trans fat also has a weak negative influence on blood glucose. The newer replacement for trans, so-called interesterified fat, appears even worse in that regard, raising glucose 20% in a month."

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In other words, the new fat could cause just as many problems as the trans fat it replaced. You just can't alter fat and not cause problems in your body. It just doesn't work. The best fats are naturally extracted from plants without any processing. These include avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, coconuts, and a variety of others.

If you want to stay healthy, eat foods that are as natural as possible. And when you eat out, stay away from restaurants that serve fake fats. When I eat out, I try to go to restaurants that serve organic foods that are as natural as possible. This does limit my choices. But it's worth the extra effort to protect my body. And the more we demand this type of food, the better our selections will become.

Ref: Sundram, K., T. Karupaiah, and K.C. Hayes, Stearic Acid-Rich Interesterified Fat and trans-Rich Fat Raise the LDL/HDL Ratio and Plasma Glucose Relative to Palm Olein in Humans, Nutr. Metab. (Lond.) 4:3 (2007). doi:10.1186/1743-7075-4-3.

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