What Foods Have Trans Fats?
We’ve all been told by the health advisory committee to consume foods that contains trans fats. But what are in these foods?. A new study from the University of Texas at Austin published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society suggests that these foods are popular in restaurants and may be unhealthy for humans.
In this article, we are focusing on foods that contains trans fatty acids and it’s health implications.
What Are Trans Fats?
Trans fats are trans isomers of unsaturated fatty acids with one double bond in a long chain hydrocarbon. They come from industrial sources, that is, by partial hydrogenation of edible oils containing unsaturated fatty acids to saturated fats and secondly from bacterial transformation of unsaturated fatty acids in the rumen of ruminants. Ruminant and industrial fats contain the same trans fatty acid isomers, but the proportions differ.
Trans fats are commonly found in:
- Paler meat
- Sugary foods
- Fried potatoes
Production of Trans Fats
Trans fats are produced when hydrogen is partially added to vegetable oils to form solid fats, food industries use this process to solidify vegetable oils into fats. The hydrogenation process of trans fatty acids depends on:
- Hydrogen pressure
- Types and proportions of oils
- Composition of MUFAs and PUFAs.
Trans Fats: Know The Facts
The dietary guidelines for Americans and the institute of medicine recommend that consumers should reduce the intake of trans fats as low as possible. There are two sources of trans fatty acids:
- Natural trans fat – Is found in meat
- Artificial trans fat – Comes from partial hydrogenation of vegetable oil
Food industries use artificial trans fat in food products because it is affordable and it increases the food’s shelf life, stability, and texture. Foods that may contain artificial trans fat include:
- Savory snacks
- Frozen pizzas
- Baked goods
- Coffee creamers
Efforts has been made by regulatory bodies, health authorities, nutrition scientist and food industries to spread awareness about the dangers of consuming trans fatty acids. However, on average, Americans still consume 1.3g of artificial trans fat each day.
Why Trans Fats Are Unhealthy
Consuming trans fat increases LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin levels and reduces HDL-cholesterol. This effect contributes to increased coronary heart disease and death.
Studies have shown that foods with high industrial trans fatty acids above 4%–6% of energy contains high levels of serum cholesterol in humans and are at risk of getting coronary heart disease.
Based on the evidence of various studies conducted, it was generally accepted that high LDL-cholesterol leads to atherosclerosis. A disease that occurs as a result of hardening of the arteries when bad cholesterol are clogging in the arterial walls.
Researchers suggested that trans fats increased LDL cholesterol and decreased HDL cholesterol resulting in a less desirable LDL:HDL ratio.
Scientist concluded that trans fatty acids are worse than saturated fatty acids, and thus lowering LDL-cholesterol by any means will reduce cardiovascular diseases.
Avoiding Trans Fats
Reducing trans fat consumption could prevent heart attacks and coronary heart disease. Consumers can avoid trans fats in many ways:
- Checking nutrition facts label and ingredient list to compare foods.
- Choose foods low in trans fat.
- Use olive oil and soybean in recipes.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Stop cooking foods with hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Dietary foods that contains trans fatty acids should not be banned from shops, stores or the market.
Health authorities and nutrition scientist must educate consumers about the consumption of dietary trans fats.
Consumers must also strictly adhere to dietary guidelines and nutrition facts labels when buying foods. Eating trans fats should be in low quantities, balanced with low-carb diets, vegetables and fruits.
This is the best way to reduce coronary heart risks and deaths. Eating too much trans fats can lead to several cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attacks.