Health Effects of Rancid Fat (New post at Nutrition Nuts and Bolts)

When you open a bottle of oil and it smells a little old, do you still use it? And where do you store that oil? Do you know that there are risks to eating rancid fats, including oils?Screen shot of the Health Effects of Rancid Fat blog post at Nutrition Nuts and Bolts

A few weeks ago, I posted an explanation of what may happen if you eat fats that have gone bad. You can read the post at Nutrition Nuts and Bolts (read it by clicking this link). The post ended up being a little technical, so I’m going to summarize/excerpt key points here, including what you can do to protect yourself.

Rancidity is the term used to describe the process and properties of a fat that is stale, smells bad, and is discolored. …

Rancid fats are found in the human diet in places such as cooking oils and fats, deep-fried foods, and some ethnic foods that are purposely made rancid. However, any fat, given the right conditions and amount of time, can go rancid. That means that any food containing fat can become rancid.

This does not mean you should stop eating fat, though. It just means you have to be smarter about how you store fat and what you choose to eat. …

Human health information on this topic comes from reported cases of toxicity due to eating rancid fat, since it is unethical to experimentally test toxicity on humans. …

In the original post, I reviewed 4 case studies, two involving accidental exposure and two with intentional exposure due to cultural food practices. The health effects ranged from mild illness to toxic oil syndrome to cancer.

Based on the 4 examples I reviewed and laboratory studies using animals and cells, recommendations to avoid the health effects of rancid fat fall into two categories: 1) prevent (or slow) the process of rancidity and 2) decrease the effects rancid fat has on the human body.

Here are three things you can do to protect yourself from the effects of rancid fat:

  • Avoid fat or fat-containing products that have a rancid or stale smell.
  • Store oils and fats correctly.
    • Since light and heat can start the process of rancidity, fats and oils should be stored in cold, dark places away from sources of heat such as the stove top.
  • Consume antioxidant-containing foods such as dark green vegetables
    • Antioxidants, can slow the process of rancidity. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of natural antioxidants.

If you would like more information, or would like to read the full post with case studies, please click here.

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Author: Shelly Najjar

MPH in Public Health Nutrition, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist // Freelance Writer, Community Builder // I have a very long Goal List (Bucket List) and I enjoy doing nail art.

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