Mad Science for Health & Wellness

Vocabulary Words

Processed Foods– Transforming food(s) into another form.

High fructose corn syrup– Corn syrup that has been processed into another form of sugar to produce a sweeter taste. Buzz word here: PROCESSED!

Trans fats- A type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods, especially foods from animals.  Most trans fats are made during food processing through partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats (see definitions below). Ex: butter or any other grease or fat that hardens at room temperature.

Hydrogenated Fat- Another word for trans fats. Here is another definition: harmful fats or oils used in foods. (Please read Hydrogenation below)

Partially hydrogenated fats- More harmful fats or oils used in food.

Saturated fat- A potentially harmful dietary fat that comes mainly from an animal source.  Ex: a big greasy burger.

Unsaturated fat- Potentially helpful forms of fat.  They are liquid at room temperature. There are two types:

  1. Monounsaturated fats– healthy fats. Examples: nuts and olives.
  2. Polyunsaturated fats– healthy fats. Examples: fats found in fish and grains



Enriched- foods that have nutrients added to them, which were lost during processing.  Examples: bread, pasta & noodles.  Read the label and buy the ones that don’t have this word in the ingredients.

Organic- The way farmers grow and process fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming helps soil and water conservation and reduces pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don’t use chemical weed killers or give growth hormones to the animals. They use natural methods to control weeds and keep their livestock healthy.

Hydrogenation (hi-dro-jen-ay-shawn)

Hydrogen (hi-dr-o-jen)

Liquid Oil

  1. Hydrogenation is the chemical name for the addition of hydrogen to an existing molecule.
  2. This is achieved by forcing hydrogen, at high temperature (400°-750° that’s hot!) and pressure into the liquid oil. (Usually in the presence of a catalyst such as nickel or platinum, over several hours….blah, blah, blah…this not meant to be a science class……)
  3. Unfortunately, the process can’t control where the hydrogen atoms are added to the molecule, resulting in a mixture of totally unnatural fats, many of which are trans fatty acids.
  4. Fatty acids are the “building blocks” of fats, in much the same way as amino acids are the building blocks of proteins…blah blah blah….again, not a science class!
  5. The resulting fats are totally unnatural hydrogenated fats.

The consequences of creating hydrogenated (hi-dro-jen-ate-ed) fats are:

  • The previously perfectly natural oil becomes a totally unnatural, dangerous, relatively indigestible “plastic”. This means you might as well eat a barbie doll. How easy would that be to digest???!!…a.k.a. poop-out??
  • All nutritional value in the original oil is lost. Good-bye, toodles, GONE!!!
  • The melting point of the oil is raised, turning many previously liquid oils into solids.
  • Shelf-life is increased, as the resulting oil is less likely to get bacteria over time. Maybe bacteria thinks it’s gross and they have a difficult time eating it too!
  • The texture of the solid can be made to resemble that of natural, animal fats.
  • Body tissues made with the “fake” fat cannot function properly. So thousands of enzymes can’t bind to them, increasing the chances of catching diseases.

Why bother making hydrogenated fats?

  • The prime reason for inventing these oils was that the people making it (mostly people in the USA, especially in the early days) needed them to survive the long transatlantic ship journey required to reach the markets in Europe.
  • The driving force was, then, the increase in shelf-life which hydrogenation caused.
  • Little or no consideration was given to the health effects of this major chemical alteration of the oil molecule.

Even more information about hydrogenated fats:

Hydrogenation allows the manufacturer to turn liquid oil into something that looks like the totally natural food, butter- in color, texture, “mouth feel” and taste, although it is clearly something VERY different.

In doing so, natural oils are converted into totally unnatural fats, which not only had never existed before, but which have completely different effects on the body than their natural fats. Many of these compounds are so called trans fats, many of which do not occur naturally and which are known to have serious health consequences, not just in relation to heart disease, but also to cancer, diabetes, obesity, pregnancy and the function of the immune system.

More Vocabulary Words..more  good I-dee’s!!

Cholesterol– a fat (lipid) which is made by the liver and is very important for our bodies to function normally.

Blood Plasma- Plasma is the often forgotten part of blood. White blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets are important to body function. But plasma also plays a key role. This fluid carries the blood components throughout the body. It’s a straw-colored, clear liquid that is 90 percent water, and it is a super important ingredient for human survival!

It might seem like plasma is less important than the blood cells it carries. But that would be like saying that the stream is less important than the fish that swims in it. You can’t have one without the other.

Besides water, plasma also contains dissolved salts and minerals like calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Bacteria & virus-fighting antibodies travel to the battlefields of disease by hitching a ride in the plasma. They need a ride, man!  So they can fight bacteria, virus and fungus! Without plasma, the life-giving blood cells would be left without transportation!! That means NO RIDE!! Never underestimate the importance of plasma!


Lipoprotein– Any complex or compound containing both lipid (fat) and protein.       Example: Lipid (fat) + protein=Lipoprotein  There are three main types; LDL,HDL & Tryglycerides.

LDL (low density lipoprotein) bad cholesterol.

HDL (high density lipoprotein) good cholesterol.

Triglycerides- Triglycerides are another type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides store unused calories in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals.


Wait There’s MORE…..!!!

The Skinny on Cholesterol…

Cholesterol is a fat (lipid) that is made by the liver and is very important for our bodies to function normally. Cholesterol exists in the outer layer of every cell in our body and has many functions. It is a waxy substance and is transported in the blood plasma.

Yes, yes… your body needs cholesterol to continue building healthy cells, BUT….having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease! High cholesterol can be inherited, but is often preventable and treatable. A healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication can go a long way toward reducing high cholesterol.

Cholesterol is carried in the blood by molecules called lipoproteins. A lipoprotein is any complex or compound containing both lipid (fat) and protein. There are three main types.

  1. LDL (low density lipoprotein) – people often refer to it as bad cholesterol. (L=Lethal) LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to cells. If too much is carried, too much for the cells to use, there can be a harmful buildup of LDL. You want your LDL to be L L is for Low so LDL, LOW! Lethal-Low. Get it?!
  2. HDL (high density lipoprotein) – people often refer to it as good cholesterol. (H=healthy) Experts say HDL prevents heart disease. HDL does the opposite of LDL – HDL takes the cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver. In the liver it is either broken down or expelled from the body as waste. You want you HDL to be H H is for High, so HDL, High! Healthy-High. Get it?!

 Cholesterol Levels

Total Cholesterol
Less than 200 mg/dL What you want!
200-239 mg/dL Borderline-Time to eat healthier!
240 mg/dL and above Yikes! And Oh shivers! TOO HIGH!!


  1. Triglycerides Triglycerides are another type of fat (lipid) that hangs out in your blood. When you get your cholesterol checked they also check your triglycerides. A triglyceride level of 100 mg/dL or lower is awesome! Experts say this level of awesomeness would improve your heart health!  For people trying to lower their triglycerides to this level, lifestyle changes such as diet, weight loss and physical activity are encouraged. That’s because triglycerides usually respond well to dietary and lifestyle changes.