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    You Ask, I Answer: Am I Making Trans Fats In My Kitchen?

    20496371Someone recently told me that when vegetable oils are exposed to high temperatures, most of their molecules transform into trans fats.

    The temperatures that cause this are ones you often see in recipes (350 or 400 degrees Fahrenheit).

    Does this mean that if I make a stir-fry with a vegetable oil I am eating a lot of trans fat?

    — Tom (last name withheld)
    Queens, NY

    I hope whoever told you this tale is not offering nutrition advice to the masses.

    He or she is making an inaccurate mountain out of a molehill and causing unnecessary panic.

    The conversion of fats (either polyunsaturated or monounsaturated) to trans fats requires the use of hydrogen atoms (this is why you can spot trans fats on a food label by looking for partially hydrogenated oils).

    Partial hydrogenation is achieved by mixing hydrogen atoms with plant oils, applying tremendous amounts of pressure (under specific conditions that can create a vacuum), inserting a metal catalyst (usually nickel) to cause a reaction, and cranking up the heat.

    That is worlds away from roasting minced garlic in olive oil in your kitchen for five minutes.

    Research on trans-fat formation from plant oils that are simply heated has concluded that this only happens when an oil is heated continuously for roughly 14 hours.  Again, not even close to what happens in anyone’s kitchen.

    Myth debunked.

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