BHT
The Premier Synthetic Antioxidant

Protect your salad and cooking oil
(and maybe even yourself)
from auto-oxidation ...

rom the earliest days of Life Extension research, the synthetic antioxidant BHT has been spotlighted again and again. And for good reason. As spices were used for many hundreds of years to preserve food, BHT has synthetically picked up the slack to help prevent the rancid oxidative spoilage of oils and other foods. Spoiled food is not much of a problem today in most of the Western world. However in the past, its impact on the health of millions and millions of people has been a sordid tale. The Grim Reaper found delight in bad food. Because the degradation of food takes place incrementally and is often imperceptible, it is better to be safe than sorry. Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw's® BHT PlusTM comes to the rescue. 

WILL: Speaking of salad and cooking oils [see High Oleic Sunflower Oil], there is an antioxidant food additive that I know you've used for a long time; and that substance is butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).

DURK: There are a lot of people who irrationally fear BHT, and because of that, most food manufacturers have taken BHT and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) out of their oils. Now, I do not like the use of BHA in oil. Its hydroxyl group is not adequately sterically hindered [protected from attack by the shielding of large surrounding parts of the molecule], whereas in BHT it's chemically sandwiched between two big tert-butyl groups, which keeps the BHT radical out of trouble; as compared to the BHA radical, which is a lot more reactive and a lot less stable. But those people who are going to be using something other than our High Oleic Sunflower Oil - those who buy some sort of an edible oil with no added antioxidants - may very well want to consider adding the FDA approved amount of BHT that used to be included in oils in the past. In fact, the FDA has expressed concern about manufacturers taking it out of their oils because of people being unrealistically scared of BHT as part of the general hysteria about preservatives. But peroxidized (rancid) salad and cooking oils are much more hazardous than the small amount of BHT required to protect your edible oils properly. 

Our BHT Plus capsules consist of a mixture of BHT and ascorbyl palmitate (fat soluble vitamin C). The amounts of BHT and fat soluble vitamin C are measured so that all that is required is to open a capsule and empty the contents into your bottled salad and cooking oil when you first open it. It will dissolve slowly by itself. Warming, shaking or stirring will speed dissolution. As I said, added BHT is not necessary for our High Oleic Sunflower Oil which is highly stable without added antioxidants. However, if you're using an oil higher in polyunsaturated fats, you really need BHT Plus. You don't need to use it if your oil already has BHT, BHA, TBHQ, or propyl gallate in it. However, if it doesn't, supplementing with BHT Plus is a very easy thing to do to protect that oil from free-radical attack. BHT protection is important because the organic peroxides that are produced when salad and cooking oil goes rancid are toxic, atherogenic, immune suppressive, and frequently mutuagenic and carcinogenic. Many people don't realize that it starts out being undetectable when vegetable oil goes rancid. It is much harder to detect rancidity by smell in vegetable oil as opposed to rancidity in animal oil. In animal oils like lard or butter, you'll detect peroxidation rancidity at about one-third the level that you'll detect it in a vegetable oil. 


But peroxidized (rancid) salad and cooking oils
are a heck of a lot more hazardous than the small
amount of BHT required to protect
your edible oils properly.
 

WILL: Why is that?

DURK: Because the aldehydes and ketones that are produced in the peroxidation of the animal oil smell stronger. 

WILL: They're more volatile? Is that it? 

DURK: I don't know whether it's more volatile or whether per microgram they have a stronger smell. But the fact is - and this has been known for a very long time - that for a given level of peroxidation, it's much easier to detect rancidity in animal fats than in vegetable fats. 


BHT protection is important because the organic peroxides
that are produced when salad and cooking oil
goes rancid are toxic, atherogenic, immune suppressive,
and frequently mutagenic and carcinogenic.

WILL: Why is the FDA concerned about the declining use of antioxidants like BHT in edible fats and oils? 

DURK: They're concerned that people aren't using the BHT in a lot of the salad and cooking oils and other edible oils on the market because BHT is very effective at inhibiting peroxidation in the oils. The FDA makes an awful lot of serious mistakes, but in the area of BHT edible oil supplementation, they are correct. The consequences of eating an oil that has been peroxidized to the point where you can't yet smell the aldehydes and ketones (the rancid odor) are much more serious than the effects of eating the slight amount of BHT you'll get by adding one of these capsules to a quart bottle of cooking oil. 

WILL: I attended a medical conference a few years ago that was co-sponsored by the FDA. Quite a bit was said about BHT. Of course, they were looking at BHT for other reasons as well. There seemed to be firm support among the FDA for its use in other ways aside from preserving foods. 


Many people don't realize that it starts out
being undetectable when vegetable oil goes rancid.
 

DURK: People need to realize that what's natural isn't always best for them. The peroxidation of oils is natural but not at all good for you. BHT is certainly unnatural, in the sense that it's made synthetically and that you don't find it in plants. Although cloves, a traditional antioxidant spice, contain a structurally-related phenolic compound which is responsible for their antioxidant properties. Indeed, the traditional clove-studded smoked virginia ham has its fats protected from free radical oxidation by the phenolics from both the cloves and the smoke. You do find a lot of vitamin E in plants. But remember that by the time your oil gets to you, it is likely that vitamin E has been removed from your soybean or corn oil. The good old food conglomerates like Archer Daniels Midland remove the vitamin E and then put it into a capsule so that, in effect, you pay twice for it. 

WILL: Is it possible that when you add BHT to an oil that any existing minimal amounts of vitamin E are better maintained? 

DURK: Oh yes. This is well known. The presence of BHT in an edible oil helps maintain the levels of vitamin E and other natural antioxidants found in it. 

WILL: Would it be a good idea to add BHT to High Oleic Sunflower Oil - especially if you aren't going to be using it up quickly? 


The FDA makes an awful lot of serious mistakes,
but in the area of BHT cooking oil supplementation
they are correct.
 

DURK: You could do that if you wanted. But our High Oleic Sunflower Oil is extremely stable due to the absence of highly peroxidizable triply-polyunsaturated fats. Those fats are almost completely absent, and doubly-unstaturated fats are much lower too. So you don't have the kind of problem you have with other types of vegetable oils. If you look at other vegetable oils, almost all of them have substantial amounts of the triply-unsaturated linolenic acid. And it doesn't need to contain much; even a couple percent is enough to cause an increased rate of peroxidation. For example, butter fat only has 2% linolenic acid in it. But when butter goes rancid, boy you can really smell it. And the linolenic acid is the main reason it goes rancid so relatively rapidly. 

SANDY: And this is true even though butterfat is 60% saturated. That minute 2% triply-unsaturated linolenic acid really makes it go rancid in a hurry. (Another reason can be iron impurities in the salt added to the salted butter.) 

DURK: And the levels of linolenic acid are much higher in ordinary sunflower or safflower oil. Canola oil has 10% linolenic acid. 


People need to realize that what's natural
isn't always best for them.
 

WILL: Thus, canola oil is an excellent candidate for BHT Plus. I've seen another high oleic oil in the gourmet supermarkets. It also has a higher level of monounsaturates but the rest of the profile, I don't know. 

DURK: I don't think that they've gotten the amount of the linolenic acid down in other oils anywhere near as low as our High Oleic Sunflower Oil. Therefore, they just aren't as stable when exposed to oxidation. 

WILL: There is a growing recognition for the use of High Oleic Sunflower Oil in snack foods, especially out here in California. You see it in more and more snack goods. But you don't see it sitting on the shelf by itself. 

DURK: All those chips, remember, are fried at high temperatures and so they're really going to be subject to more autoxidation and turning rancid; particularly if the processors are not adding BHT. As a result, they really need to use as stable an oil as possible. But of course, they don't want to have a high saturated fat figure. If you put those two things together, a stable oil without a high saturated fat, the one that comes in best is our High Oleic Sunflower Oil.

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