The Truth About Trans Fatty Acids (Trans Fats)

10 Jun

cigs

If you were to walk down the chip or cookie aisle at your local grocery store, you’d see many packages bragging about the fact that they are “trans fat-free”. In the last couple of years, there has been an all out attack on trans fats; from forcing food producers print the amounts of trans-fat on food labels, to restaurants claiming to be “trans fat-free” – there has been a strong movement to get rid of trans fats from the foods we eat. But why?

Today’s post is all about trans fat: how it’s made, which foods have it, and why it should never be consumed by any human being.

transFat-label

Small amounts of trans fats are found naturally in many kinds of animal meats. Because these are natural fats, they aren’t dangerous (just don’t go eating 3 pounds of bacon each day).

Food producers used to use lard and other solid sources of fat to add flavour to their products. However, as people started to speak out about the health problems caused by these fats, manufacturers moved to man-made substances: hydrogenated fats to replace the other fats. The problem is, the new hydrogenated fats are just as bad, if not worse than the older kind.

This dangerous fat comes from a lab… that’s rights a laboratory, where scientists have created a way to create trans fat, through the process of hydrogenation. Hydrogen atoms are added to liquid fats like vegetable oil to make them a solid, and remain solid at room temperature. The problem is, this process creates trans fatty acids (trans fats).

trans fat

Trans fats are dangerous. Eating trans fats, even in small amounts, can dramatically increase your chances of heart disease and increase levels bad cholesterol in your body.

So, which kinds of foods contain trans fat?

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The following foods are known for their trans fat content: margarine, crackers, cookies, doughnuts, baking mixes, chips, chocolate bars, many kinds of snack foods, fried foods and vegetable shortenings.

Many restaurants use hydrogenated oils to fry their foods, so watch out for anyhting fried: wings, french fries, chicken fingers and onion rings.

Despite the fact that a package of food may say “0% trans fat”, the only way to make sure the product doesn’t have ANY trans fats, is to make sure that partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening isn’t  listed as any ingredient. Food manufacturers can be sneaky, so be prudent!

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