Simple Nutrition: Trans Fats

02.18.14 | Sarah Harnisch

Is margarine good for you? What about buttery spreads? How healthy is canola oil, safflower or sunflower oil? What foods have trans-fats in them, and why are they bad for us? Family Life's Sarah Harnisch and Certified Natural Health Professional Brandee Gorsline tackle bad fats in this week's Simple Nutrition.

If you would like to get more tips on natural health, join Brandee's Facebook page, Clean Living Coach.

More Resources:

What are trans fats? Here is a Mayo Health Clinic article.

A scientific explanation of the dangers of trans fats.

Here are Dr. Joseph Mercola articles on trans fats.

And article on why you should not eat vegetable oil or margarine.

Canola oil is not a healthy oil, despite the Discovery Channel piece. Watch the video to see how it’s made, and how many processes it goes through before it hits your dining room table.


Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 02.18.14 Jayme commented

I heard your comments on the radio today about canola oil and was concerned when you said it is not a healthy choice. Until today, all of my research has said otherwise, including the Mayo Health Clinic article you have posted above. I did some research today and found many articles supporting the use of canola oil. I even found one that explains why canola oil comes from a genetically modified rapeseed and I will include the citation at the end.
I am also concerned about the blog article you have posted by Wellness Mama. For my reasons stated above, I believe that canola oil is a healthy choice, yet the blog says to stay away from it. Secondly, coconut oil is listed as being a great choice. I must disagree since coconut oil is too new to the market and no conclusive studies support all the fanfare that it has been receiving. The last thing I want to address with the blog is that I found one article link to be broken and the other article she referenced came from a source that I find to be non-medical, The Healing Naturally by Bee. This blog is devoted to selling a product and under the "About Bee" tab, I read the owner's claim that her product will, "help heal any disease, illness or malfunction in the body." As a librarian, one of the first things I look for are references and working links. I also look for outrageous claims such as the one mentioned above.
I would ask that you take another look into unhealthy and healthy oils, and list links that lead to academically informed professionals.

Retelny, V. (2014). Ask the EN Experts. I've heard that canola oil is bad for you. Is there any truth to this idea?. Environmental Nutrition, 37(2), 2.

Thank you for your time,

on 02.18.14 Brandee commented

Hi Jayme, I am not sure why the link is now broken, but we will take a look at that. We try to find links that support my professional opinion and experience. My education did not come from internet articles so it is not always easy to find links that summarize my knowledge and experience on any given topic. After studying this topic for over 10 years, I am in total agreement with the wellnessmama blog entry that we linked. Her blog is well written, reader friendly and a great resource for people just starting out. It is not a medical based blog and that is exactly what we were looking for as many people are not interested in the technicalities or medical jargon. I did review the information and it does convey exactly what I hoped our audience would get. In this case we are thinking of the busy mom who would like the basics spelled out and if they would like to further their research from there, they may. We are reaching a broad audience and hope to provide useful information across the spectrum.

As far as canola oil goes, my experience and research has led me to the time tested merits of traditional diets. Diets and dietary principles such as those studied by Weston A. Price. Highly processed vegetables including canola that are in their infancy have in no way been proven safe and the processing alone, regardless of intrinsic characteristics of the rapeseed, are enough to send up a major red flag. The modern day canola oil available for purchase is extracted using a combination of high temperature mechanical pressing, and solvent extraction. Traces of the solvents, including hexane remain in the oil even after further refining. The following is a quote from an article that I think you will find helpful in further studying canola and you will find that it is properly sited and covers many aspects of the vegetable oil industry that our short feature did not allow time for. "Like all modern vegetable oils, canola oil goes through the process of caustic refining, bleaching and degumming--all of which involve high temperatures or chemicals of questionable safety. And because canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures, it must be deodorized. The standard deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. Although the Canadian government lists the trans content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found trans levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid oil.24 The consumer has no clue about the presence of trans fatty acids in canola oil because they are not listed on the label." Link to follow.

Here is a link to another very informative article that covers a broader range of issues regarding commercial oils:

The following link is a small sampling of the medical research on coconut oil. I have personally used coconut oil in a variety of ways for over 10 years including for cooking, baking, skin and hair care, oral care, dressing wounds and more. Of course it is anecdotal, but I have heard from hundreds of people about their coconut oil success stories. If you are interested in further reading on this topic, I can suggest several books that would be helpful.

Thank you for taking the time to write to us, I hope this information is helpful to you.

Brandee Gorsline

on 02.25.14 Marilyn commented

In my nutrition education in nursing, I was taught that saturated fats were the source of 'bad cholesterol' or LDL's and poly & mono unsaturated fats were the fats to choose to increase the 'good cholesterol' or HDL's. When I read the Wellness Mama blog on 'Why You Should Never East Vegetable Oil or Margarine' the list of Oils & Fats to use freely includes those that are high in saturated fat & the list to avoid includes many that are poly unsaturated. Are there no options that are poly unsaturated or is my education now outdated?