“I hear everyone talking about trans-fats. But what exactly are they, and why are they so bad?”
Trans fats, or trans-fatty acids, are largely artificial fats manufactured by a process called hydrogenation. If you read a label and see anything with ‘partially-hydrogenated’ in front of it, it is a trans fat. Companies started using them all over the place because they were cheap, had good flavor, and extended the shelf life of products.
What foods contain trans fats?
Since trans fats seemed to be the perfect fat, they made their way into practically all of our favorite processed foods.
You’ll find trans fats in processed foods, fast foods, and commercially baked goods. They are in pretty much all the foods that taste good that you are not suppose to eat. They are in french fries, pies, pastries, cookies, crackers, chips, popcorn, frozen waffles and margarine. Many of these foods are also high in saturated fat.
Trans fats are fats that contain trans fats which are a type of unsaturated fatty acids. It is very similar to the structure of saturated fat and therefore affect our health in similar ways.
Hydrogenated fat is formed when unsaturated fatty acids react with hydrogen under high temperature. Trans fats are formed during the chemical process by which oil is hardened while the fat content of omega-3 fatty acids disappears.
In recent years however, we’ve learned of an alarming number of health risks associated with the intake of trans fats, which explains why trans fats are such a hot health issue.
A World Health Organization (WHO) report from 2009 on health effects of trans fats wrote that “trans fat from industrially hydrogenated fats should be severely limited or completely removed. In the first instance, trans fats are replaced with unsaturated fat that is not cured. In principle, it is about fats that are rich in omega-6, omega-3 or monounsaturated fat. ”
Trans fat raises LDLcholesterol levels even more than saturated fats. In addition to raising the so-called bad cholesterol, it also lowers HDL, the “good cholesterol” that serves as a protective factor against cardiovascular disease. Therefore, for good health we need to reduce the amount of trans fat in foods we eat. We eat saturated fat and trans fat from food, which in an unbalanced diet can contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and overweight. It is also very important to reduce the intake of saturated fat while increasing intake of unsaturated fats in order to achieve a balance in fat intake. Unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, canola oil, nuts and fish.
What foods contain saturated fat?
Saturated fats are found mainly in full fat dairy and meat products, such as cream, butter, fat cheese, bacon, greasy sausage, ice cream, pastries and chocolate. Some vegetable oils contain saturated fats such as coconut and palm oil.