They are in our food, and they are not good. Trans fatty acids are not like other fats and they are lurking in many of our favourite foods. Trans fatty acids are dangerous, and they can be deadly. We need to learn how to recognise these fats so that we can avoid them. Some of the most common questions about Trans fats.
What are Trans Fatty Acids? In a process called “hydrogenation” these Trans fats as they are also called, are created by mixing hydrogen with vegetable oil. This creates a substance more solid than oil. So although it is beneficial for food production it is an absolute nightmare for our health.
Why are Trans Fats so Dangerous? Firstly Trans fats increase the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL’s) while at the same time they lower the levels of the good cholesterol (HDL’s). This is a dangerous combination, which increases the risk of heart attacks.
Regular fats are metabolized within 18 days, but Trans fats can linger for nearly 2 months in the body. Even small amounts of Trans fats can be harmful as they cause dangerous chemical reactions in the body and are a major contributor to heart disease.
They have also been linked to diabetes, obesity, cancer and weakened immune systems. It is highly recommended that Trans fats are avoided whenever possible. Some experts have called for stricter labeling to help people identify them easier.
Why then are Trans Fats Still in Use? They are more solid and last longer than oils, so from a food production view they are useful. They extend the shelf life of many processed foods. They can also improve the texture, making the food less greasy and firmer.
Which Foods Contain Trans Fats? Trans fats are most commonly found in baked foods like cakes, biscuits, doughnuts, pies and crackers. It is also found in most brands of margarine, some salad dressings and cereals. Fried foods like chips and crisps contain Trans fat.
Are Trans Fats Called by Other Names? Sometimes it will say “partially hydrogenated”, so the chances are it will have Trans fatty acids in it. It is best to avoid foods with margarine, shortening and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
How do you Avoid Trans Fatty Acids? Avoid junk food and fried food in your diet. Cook your food with olive oil and not margarine. There are healthy alternatives to margarine like products made from yoghurt or healthy oils.
If you want to have fried foods then use olive oil to fry them. Bake your own cakes and biscuits as shop bought ones can have an amazing percentage of Trans fat in them. Get Trans fats out of your diet and enjoy the health benefits you will gain!