Side Effects of Olestra

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Side Effects of Olestra
Side Effects of Olestra (Image: John Doe: www.scientificamerican.com)

Olestra is chemical compound that acts as a fat substitute. It is commonly used in packaged products (such as potato chips) that traditionally contain high-fat content. Olestra does not add any fat to the product, thus allowing companies to market products containing Olestra as a healthly food choice. The makers of Olestra, Procter & Gamble, attempted to gain approval from the Food And Drug Administration in 1975 to market Olestra as a cholesterol reduction drug. However, it did not meet the minimum standard of cholesterol reduction and was not approved. Olestra was approved for use as a food additive in 1996.

Vitamin Absorption

Eating foods containing Olestra cause the consumer to be unable to absorb certain vitamins. The vitamins that are blocked by Olestra are added back into the product by the manufacturer. Vitamins D, E, A and K are added. Eating excessive amounts of products containing Olestra cause the level of vitamins blocked from absorption to increase.

Carotenoids

Cartenoids are pigments produced naturally by plants, which have been found to be a beneficial antioxidant. Olestra has been shown to block the absorption of cartenoids. It even blocks the absorption of cartenoids if consumed in a meal containing fresh vegetables and fruits that have cartenoids. A diet containing cartenoids has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Over consumption of products containing Olestra can cause diarrhea, loose stools and abdominal cramps. These side effects occur because Olestra blocks the absorption of fat in the body. Consuming a high amount of Olestra quickly causes these issues to occur. People with pre-existing gastrointestinal issues should be weary of consuming foods containing Olestra.

Over Consumption

Foods containing Olestra may lead the consumer to believe that they are healthier to eat in large amounts. Over eating any food can be unhealthy whether or not it contains high or low levels of fat. A serving of chips containing Olestra contains approximately 75 calories, while a serving of regular chips contains approximately 150 calories. Artificial sweeteners and fat substitutes cause the consumer to feel less full than normal and may lead them to eat more food.

Lack of Fat in the Diet

Fat is a necessary nutrient in the body, as it aids in the absorption of other minerals and vitamins. The cell membranes in each cell of the body are made up of fats. A lack of fat in the diet can cause issues in the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Only eating foods that contain no fat will cause issues in the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals.

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