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What is olestra and when should it be used?

Olestra is a chemical substitute for fat, and it belongs tothe group of fats that are not absorbed in the body. Even though it was notapproved by the Food and Drug Administration as a cholesterol reducing drug, whichis what Procter & Gamble tried to accomplish some 35 years ago, it wasapproved as a food additive approximately 20 years later. This product is alsoknown under the brand name Olean,and today it is used as a food additive that is added to such products thatcontain high amounts of fat, and it can be found in packaged food products. Potatochips is a typical example of fast food in which it has been used, and since itdoes not add any fat to the products, it is regarded as a healthy choicewhen food is in question. However, there is another side of the story, and itrefers to the unwanted effects of this allegedly healthy food additive. Certainside effects have been reported, and we will mention those that are the mostconcerning of all.

How safe is it and are there any side effects?

First of all, it is known that foods that contain thisadditive prevent the absorption of particular vitamins, among which arevitamins D, E, A and K, which is why they are added into the product inquestion. In case a person consumes a lot of food that contains Olestra, it isvery likely that the levels of vitamins in question will be decreased. Insufficientamounts of vitamins may lead to a number of health issues.

Besides vitamins, Olestra also has the ability to preventthe absorption of carotenoids, pigments that plants produce naturally and thatare considered a very beneficial antioxidant. Not only does it prevent the absorptionof this pigment from the food to which Olestra is added, but it also preventsits absorption from other foods that naturally contain it, such as fresh fruitsand vegetables.

A number of various gastrointestinal problems may also becaused in cases of those who consume products with this additive in amountsthat exceed the normal. What’s more, such people will very quickly experiencethese problems. Diarrhea, cramps in the abdomen and loose stools are only some ofthe most common side effects, which is why people who already have some gastrointestinalissues should be very careful about consuming Olestra containing food.

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