To know why are trans fats bad for health, let’s take a look at the history of how this slow man-made poison, originally an unintentional discovery of a manufactured fat that slipped into every supermarket goods, fast food joint, gourmet cafe, and restaurant you dine; with a purpose to create a lip-smacking taste and prolong the products shelf-life.
I suggest reading stories like these, “ The history of Trans fat ” to enlighten yourself, which could be a potential story to narrate in front of an audience; and surprise children while educating them, since ”mystery murder stories” no longer adds surprise in today’s world.
This explains why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), required listing Trans Fats on nutrition labels at the hind side of food packages. How many of you thoroughly read that? Perhaps very few.
So, ” why are trans fats bad ” is a question that should intrigue every mind.
Therefore, let me state the reason behind addressing this question
According to FSSAI, India ranking third in the global index of obesity, has the highest burden of morbidities caused by heart diseases due to large trans fat intake, while outperforming other nations aside.
WHO recommends limiting trans fats to 2% of the total fat in all readily available fats, oil, and food commodities. Because the current Indian regulations do not cover all foods yet, Indians will remain at high risk, unless consumers make conscious choices themselves.
It’s a lengthy argument to discuss who should be getting serious – the government, the industrialists, or the citizens?
Since everybody seems to care about their benefits, you too must take action for the sake of your wellbeing. So, benefit yourself by creating awareness, by gradually understanding why trans fats are bad.
This article will walk you through the key aspects of Trans fats in brief.
How are trans fats made?
The Indian diet today is on the downside of good fat, mainly because consumers are rapidly savoring an unnatural fat, namely trans fatty acids (TFA’s) or trans fat for short, also known as a hydrogenated vegetable oil in food labels.
That means TFA’s are chemically made when manufacturers add hydrogen to edible vegetable oil — a process called hydrogenation, to obtain a more saturated fat.
Hydrogenation enhances the shelf life, flavor, texture, and aroma of food containing these; which explains why food manufacturers love it.
Is Trans fat Okay in moderation?
Well, studies suggest that everyone be cautious. The National Academy of Science in America reports that trans fats have no safe level for human consumption. Thus, if a dietary substance contains even a reportable amount of trans fats, which is 0.5 % or more, the manufacturer must list the amount on the Supplement’s Facts panel.
Effect of Trans fats on health
Some of the health risks associated with trans fat are:
- Coronary heart disease:
Trans fat is the worst type of fat one should eliminate first, which raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or dangerous cholesterol in your blood, causing clogged arteries resulting in heart diseases and failure. In fact, this unnatural fat raises LDL twice as much as other saturated fat.
Experiments on animals confirm that TFA’s are associated with abdominal obesity, which makes you fatter than any other food does with the same amount of calories.
Your belly is the most targeted region for fat deposits, and the culprit is TFA’s. They do this not only by adding new fat but also by moving fat from other regions to the belly — a shocking fact!
Research states that even under a controlled calorie diet, long-term consumption of TFA is an independent factor behind weight gain. Unfortunately, many workout freaks and nutrition lovers don’t know that.
- Colon Cancer:
Although an association between a high-fat diet and Colon cancer has been known
for years, investigated first in America, the exact mechanism has remained unclear.
Cancer statistics from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention show a 7% increase in obesity-related cancers (such as colon and rectum, breast, kidney, uterus, gall bladder, pancreas, etc).
Which cancer is specifically linked to high Body mass index (BMI)?
It’s Colon and rectal cancer which is currently a global concern due to poor dietary habits, especially in western countries.
Indians moving towards western diet rapidly could risk in future, as obesity here ranks third.
- Type 2 Diabetes:
There’s a common notion that because diabetes increases blood glucose levels, too much sugar consumption is held the reason behind it. That’s a myth!
Type 2 Diabetes is caused by insulin resistance and an over-active pancreas.
Science claims that obesity, especially too much fat around the abdomen, called visceral fat is a major cause of insulin resistance.
Foods containing Trans fats
Since manufacturers add it in food to increase shelf life i.e. the length of time a packet can sit on a grocer’s shelf before getting stale, it is nearly present everywhere.
They are found in butter; margarine; ready to eat frozen food; baked goods such as cookies, biscuits, crusts, bread, donuts, cakes, and pastries; present in chocolates and ice-creams; cooking creams; microwave popcorn; deep-fried snacks; mayonnaise, sauces, and salad dressings; ready to eat soup; and the list of foods containing trans fats is long.
In fast-food restaurants, it is the hydrogenation of frying oil that makes your chicken nuggets so crispy and crunchy, allowing the oil to be reused for few more days.
Many health-conscious consumers are unaware that even their favorite nutrition bites such as Granola bars aren’t completely free from them.
In fact, manufacturers play smart by using labels such as partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil, which sounds healthy in order to retain customers who would otherwise dump the product.
Some trans fats do exist naturally and have always been a part of the food supply, as they’re present in animals. Therefore, dairy products, meat, and other animal-based food contain this natural fat, but it has got a different chemical configuration from the manufactured version.
How to eliminate trans fats from your portion?
If you are in a country where regulations are weak or industrial trans fat isn’t banned, here are a few tips to eliminate trans fats:
- Choose liquid vegetable oil for cooking (check nutrition facts panel and ingredients list thoroughly.)
- Avoid eating commercially prepared baked foods (bread, cakes, biscuits, cookies, rusks, veg puffs, etc.), snack foods, and processed foods, including fast foods. To be on the safe side, assume that all such products contain trans fats unless they are labeled otherwise.
- To avoid trans fats in restaurants, one strategy is to avoid deep-fried foods (since restaurants may use partially hydrogenated oils in their fryers) and desserts.
- Avoid street food, as they would most likely use low-grade hydrogenated oil for preparations.
The Indian government is taking action to reduce industrial trans fat, although it should have been banned long ago for the havoc it has created. As of 2021, the new regulation by FSSAI is to slash trans fat to 3% from commercial products.
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