Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What's In That Food? Part One: Cool Whip: Transfat, Corn Syrup & Lye, Oh My!

By Marcie Barnes

I was recently reading one of my favorite blogs, www.thatsfit.com, and came across this reference to a gallery published by their parent company, AOL. I have issues with a few things about this gallery, but let's start with slide #6 - Cool Whip -"it includes questionable ingredients like hydrogenated vegetable oil a known trans fat --and high fructose corn syrup…" says the AOL piece. Indeed, a lot of scary ingredients in this. However, telling people to opt for the "fat-free" version isn't really the best advice.

There is still hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fat) in the "fat-free" version, they probably just add only enough to get away with calling it "free" under government guidelines. Even then, I'm skeptical - because the ingredients listed on all three kinds - "free", "lite" and "regular" are virtually identical, with the exception of the use of sodium hydroxide in the "free" version - which, my friends, is lye. I see that there are some food applications for lye, but I prefer to stay away from ingredients also used to unclog drains...I don't know about you.

I would recommend buying a regular old can of whipped cream, organic would be better because it would not have corn syrup, and don't feel too bad about it - especially if you're putting it on fresh organic fruit. :)

I found another blogger who has also discovered the stark similarities in ingredients between all three versions of cool-whip. As usual, it's the job of those marketing people to make you feel like you are making an "informed" purchase by putting a bunch of (often misleading) information on the front label. Spend more time reading the back - and save yourself a lot of time by shopping organic products, because they don't contain chemical additives, preservatives or hormones.

Another ingredient found in all three varieties is sorbitan monostearate. I had to do a lot of research to try and figure out exactly what this is, and basically, it's an artificial wax. I say always air on the side of caution when ingesting anything artificial. In addition, I was a bit disturbed by research I kept finding (done in the 60s) where this substance was found to speed tumors in the skin of hamsters (if someone with a scientific background wants to read this and spell it out in layman's terms, that would be great). This page says it also "may increase the absorption of fat-soluble substances".

Again, a great substitute for cool whip would be to go out and buy some organic whipping cream, add a little stevia to sweeten it, and whip it yourself! It's easy, and homemade whipped cream is impressive to friends and family. :)

Up next: Green Tea that's bad for you.

Image Credit goes to:
lowjumpingfrog on flickr, who aptly named the photo "Death by Variety".

1 comment:

Arleen said...

I think that FDA MUST ban transfat due the irreversible damage it does to our children day after day. Another question, If I buy viagra with some frequency, can transfats alter my treatment ?