The truth is that there are good fats and bad fats. Often times people try to diet by reducing all of their fat intake, and that simply doesn’t help. I’m going to show you one of the worst kinds of “Bad Fats” on the market today, and we will do more Good Fats vs Bad Fats articles here to help guide you through your health goals. The one we’re going to talk about today is Trans Fat.
Do you know that food chemists add all sorts of nasty obesity additives to foods to make them addictive?
Well, their “chemical tinkering” has also created dangerous fats (more commonly known as trans fats). Food chemists got the bright idea to take a healthy vegetable oil, put it in a laboratory, and add to it hydrogen atoms. This process is called hydrogenation, and what results is a mutated oil that becomes solid at room temperature. This allows the food manufacturers to put this kind of fat into processed foods to prevent them from going bad as fast.
Sounds like a great invention, right?
What they didn’t realize at the time is that when they chemically altered this once-natural and healthy fat, it became highly toxic to the human body.
These hydrogenated fats change your cell membranes by making them hard and brittle. Soon they become dysfunctional and your body attacks these cells, causing inflammation that can lead to diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, and certain cancers.
For example, a 2008 University of Paris-South study linked a high trans fat intake to a higher risk of breast cancer. Furthermore, a 2008 University of North Carolina study found that a higher intake of trans fats was associated with a higher incidence of precancerous growths in the colon.
Trans fats were also shown to increase LDL (bad cholesterol) and decrease HDL (good cholesterol) in a study published in The Journal of Nutrition. Furthermore, trans fats are directly linked to premature aging and obesity.
In 2006, a study conducted at Wake Forest University showed that trans fats actually redistributed body fat from other parts of the body to the belly. And belly fat is the most dangerous kind of body fat because it’s linked to heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Because of these findings, trans fats have been banned throughout much of Europe and, more recently, New York City banned restaurants from cooking with trans fats.
I know what you’re thinking, “if they put it in processed foods, and use it in restaurants, how do I avoid it? It sounds like it’s everywhere.” The truth is, it is almost everywhere. However, now that people are becoming more aware of it, and the dangers involved there are options becoming more readily available to you. What you have to keep in mind is that every single time you buy something, you are voting for that company, and their practices. Which means three meals a day, you vote on what you and your family find acceptable. Take the time to read the labels on the products you buy in your local stores. It will take some time the first few times you do it, but you’ll find that the more you are dedicated to this process, the easier it becomes. Think of it as ridding your house of a poison and replacing it with better nutrition. NOW it sounds well worth the effort, doesn’t it?
What to look for : If a food says “hydrogenated” on the label… put it back. Even if the label says “No Trans Fats.” It’s not true. “No Trans Fats” just means that each serving of the food has less than .5 grams of trans fats. However, most of us eat more than one serving and even a little trans fat can be deadly over time.
You can also look at the signs in restaurants when you go out. Most places that have reduced or eliminated the use of trans fats are very proud of it, and will show you. A lot of these places are even making fried foods without out using trans fats by simply switching what type of oils they are using.
Don’t fret, it will take some getting used to and dedication, but it is not impossible. The more you vote for these foods and practices by buying them, the more available they will become. I promise you. Everyone wants to stay in business and make money, so as we start demanding healthier foods, they will make them.
Please feel free to post any questions or your own suggestions in the comments below. Also, be sure to share this page with anyone that you think would benefit from it. I want to help put cooking, and fresh foods back into our daily routines.