Trans fatty acids, or trans fats as they are more commonly referred to, are “fake” fats that clog arteries, increase the levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL) and lower high density lipoproteins (HDL) in the blood. These deadly fat imposters are formed when vegetable oils harden to create shortening or margarine.
However, trans fats are prevalent in more foods than shortening and margarine and we often consume them without knowing. Typical french fried cookies, chips, frozen waffles, and crackers contain from 30 to 50% trans fatty acids. Donuts, an American staple, may contain up to 40% depending on the brand.
The dangerous fats are added to processed foods to make them more palatable, increase their shelf life and improve flavor. In fact, 80% of trans fats come from processed foods while the remainder comes from meat and dairy.
Is the donut really worth it? Serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease thrive in the type of environment created by trans fatty acids.
Since 2006, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required food manufacturers to include the trans fat content per serving of food on labels. However, a label can say that the product contains no trans fats when there is, in fact, 0.5 grams in each serving. Keep in mind that the damage caused by trans fat is cumulative. Even a little consumed each day adds up very quickly.
Many so called “healthy” foods actually contain trans fat but consumers think differently. Reading the label is imperative if you really want to know whether or not food contains this deadly ingredient. If you see the words “partially hydrogenated” anywhere on the label, put the item back on the shelf, don’t waste your money.
Of course, a good way to avoid trans fats is to stop eating processed foods, especially those that are baked or fried. This would include crackers, cookies, frozen pastries, donuts, cakes etc… In addition, most of the food used in the fast food industry contains trans fats.
If you are unsure as to whether or not a particular food item contains trans fats, ask before you make a purchase. Eat healthy snacks such as raw nuts, fruit, veggies or organic popcorn made on the stove, instead of heavily processed items. Better oil choices include olive for drizzling and coconut for cooking.
Above all – just be careful. If you want to protect your health and the health of your family – you have to remember that you are in the driver’s seat. Take the time to educate yourself and make wise choices. Because… your health is worth it.
-The Alternative Daily