* The following post is the second in our three-part series with Monoj Gupta. Mr. Gupta is the president and founder of MG Edible Oil Consulting International, Inc. He founded the company in 1998 utilizing his 45 years experience in the field of oil technology and food processing. He holds a Master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida and was named Fellow at the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS) in 2008. As President of MG Edible Oil, he is currently providing consulting services for oil and food processing companies in the United States, Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
In this post, we’re analyzing the real secret behind trans fat.
Trans fat is an unsaturated fatty acid that can be found naturally, mostly in animal fats. It is also found in minute amounts in vegetable oils. Most of the naturally occurring unsaturated fatty acids in vegetable oils are in the chemical structural form, which is scientifically called the “Cis” form. Some of these unsaturated fatty acids of the Cis form get converted into what is called the “Trans” form during vegetable oil processing. In vegetable oil processing, the conversion from the Cis to the Trans form occurs in two ways:
First, the “Trans” fats in vegetable oils are produced primarily due to a process called hydrogenation, where the unsaturated fatty acids in the oils are converted to Saturated fatty acids to obtain better oxidative stability for the oil. During “Hydrogenation”, some of the natural unsaturated fatty acids, which are in the “Cis” state, are converted to the “Trans” state. Both “Cis” and “Trans” are called isomers of each other. This means they have the same chemical formulas but they have different physical structures.
Second, this is believed to be due to the heat exposure of the unsaturated fatty acids during the oil refining process. The amount of Cis to Trans conversion is noticeable but can be controlled by manipulating the refining process.
Although the Cis and Trans of the same unsaturated fatty acid may have the same chemical formula, they have different physical and chemical properties. Without going into any detail it can be stated that the Trans form of the fatty acid has a higher melt point and higher oxidative stability than its Cis counterpart.
Nutritionally, the Trans fatty acids are not desirable because they produce the bad cholesterol while lowering the good cholesterol, and they can increase the risk of heart attack.
Learn more about Trans fat in our free frying oil study.
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