AVOID Trans Fats
Avoiding trans fats is my 5th Pillar of health. Trans fats (unsaturated fatty acids) are found in low amounts in foods such as dairy and meats. These natural trans fats include conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and vaccenic acid.
However, most trans fats consumed come from processed foods. One should avoid eating processed foods which have trans fats as they can be detrimental to one’s health. Be a smart consumer, It is important that one read the food label closely. Foods with trans fats will contain hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list. Both of these terms are code names for “trans fats”.
Foods which Contain Trans Fats
Trans Fats are commonly found in processed foods such as:
- Baked goods (ie cakes, rolls)
- Fried foods
- Potato Chips
- Frozen Pizzas
- Margarine and other spreads
- Coffee Creamers (sweetened)
- Fast foods
- Microwave popcorn
Why are Tran Fats Used?
Trans fats are purposely placed in the foods for improved taste, texture and financial reasons. Preparing food using trans fats allows food manufacturers to extend the shelf-life of the food, saving them millions of dollars while preventing food items from spoiling. Unfortunately, trans fats appear to shorten the lifespan of the consumer and ultimately increase healthcare costs.
How are Trans Fats made?
Trans fats are manufactured by adding hydrogen molecules to liquid vegetable oil. This process allows the oil to become solid at room temperature.
Trans Fats and Heart Disease
According to the Mayo Clinic, Trans-fats elevate LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. In addition, according to the American Heart Association, they are believed to also increase one’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. These metabolic effects increase one’s risk for cardiovascular disease and strokes
Specifically, trans fats damage the endothelial lining of blood vessels, via oxidation. This leads to clogged arteries, inflammation and ultimately increased risk for heart attack. In addition, a 2015 study demonstrated that consumption of trans fats increased one’s overall risk of dying.
When consuming food, it is important to read the labels. By definition, as long as a food has less than 0.5 grams of trans-fats per serving, the label can proclaim “No Trans-fats”.
Avoid processed foods. Cook your food at home as much as possible. Instead of margarine, use butter. Instead of frying foods, consider baking them. Increase intake of fruits and vegetables to optimize overall health.