The Hemp Connection + trans fats

OK, time to cut through the fat!

Last night I settled in to watch the evening news, in time to see an ad for Country Crock's Omega 3 Plus brand margarine. With my reputation as somewhat of an"omega 3 queen," I figured I'd better pay attention. And by the time the ad was over, I knew I had today's post.

This label is a perfect example of why consumers are confused, and why they can have a hard time achieving the benefits of good nutritional choices.

First, the good news.

The margarine has no trans fats, because it contains no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. For fertility, this is a huge plus--with as little as 2% of your total calories per day coming from trans fats (about 2/3 tsp for the average woman), fertility can drop by as much as 73%.

Secondly, one serving provides 500 mg of omega-3's in the form of ALA.

Now for the confusing and potentially detrimental news.

When the professionals on this blog talk about what we're doing to enhance fertility and reduce inflammation, and we refer to omega-3's, we are primarily referring to EPA and DHA, the omega-3's that, except for omega-3 eggs and foods supplemented with algal DHA, contain either fish or fish oil. (Menhaden oil, which is what is found in Smart Balance Omega 3 Margarine, is a type of fish oil.)

Any other type of omega-3 is likely to be ALA. This type of omega-3 is found in canola oil, and flaxseed oil, among other things. In this margarine, the ALA source is canola oil.

But there is no fish oil or marine algae to provide a similar nutritional feature.

There are some things that flax and canola can do, and there are some that flax and canola simply cannot do.

Many people, nutritionists included, operate on the assumption that since the omega-3 found in canola and flax can be converted into EPA and DHA, that you can get enough of the latter two without having to eat fish. Most respected omega-3 chemists will tell you this is highly unlikely.

On a good day, when your diet is as perfect as it can possibly be (which, even in the case of the person writing this post is never), only about 2-3% of your flax and canola can be converted into the other omega-3's.

Bottom line, it's pretty non-negotiable, you are highly unlikely to get the amount of omega-3's your body needs, especially if you are trying to conceive, if you are assuming you can do it without fish.

Secondly, the primary oil in the margarine appears to be liquid soybean oil. Remember the rule about"S" and"C" oils? Soybean is one of those"S" oils with a tendency to be pro-inflammatory. It was impossible to tell from the label what the ratio of soybean to canola oil was, and I would suspect that it was higher than you're going to want if you're trying to choose fertility-friendly foods.

I immediately became suspicious about this Country Crock product when I went to the website and nowhere, I mean absolutely nowhere, could I find a plainly stated ingredient list. Sure, there's a label to look at, but it's strategically posted in a way that all the nutritional information is there except for the ingredients. Hmmmm…

…so I went to the FAQ section. Couldn't find it there either. I found a lot of long-winded explanations of trans-fat labeling, and that was my second red flag.

Since I had to go to the grocery store anyway, I stopped in and looked at the label. Here, for the benefit of the rest of the people on the Internet, is the list of ingredients from the side of the container of this product:

Vegetable oil blend (liquid soybean oil, canola oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, water, whey, salt, vegetable mono and diglycerides, soy lecithin (potassium sorbate, calcium disodium EDTA), citric acid, artificial flavor, vitamin A (palmitate), and beta carotene.

For more information on healthy fats, go to, where my Zing Bar friends describe why they did--and didn't--include certain fats in their new product.

Any fat that is going to be solid at room temperature is going to have to have some saturated fat in its formula. Otherwise, it would melt. So even though the total saturated fat content is low, the type of fat being used to provide the solid quality is not one you want to get much of in your diet.

I'm not really a butter or margarine person so giving those up was not an issue for me. But I did start my career in the Chicago area, and I remember how people used to look at me like I was purple-polka-dotted if I even hinted that dairy intake might need to be adjusted. So I know it's an issue for some of you.

Bottom line--if you choose to use the product, do so only once in awhile and sparingly. I'd rather see people use olive oil-based dipping sauces for breads and cook with either canola or olive oil.

If you're interested in learning more, the authors of the study below also wrote a recently released book in plain English entitled, The Fertility Diet. I'd check it out.

Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Diet and lifestyle in the prevention of ovulatory disorder infertility. Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Nov;110(5):1050-8.

ALA, canola oil, diet, fats, fertility, fish oil, Fish oil and Flax seed, food, healthy body, hydrogenated oil, margarine, menhaden oil, nutrition, olive oil, omega-3, soy, time to be, and more:

OK, time to cut through the fat! + trans fats