When we look at fats, trans-fats are the worst of them all. High consumption of these fats could have a detrimental affect on your health. Trans-fats are one of the prime culprits in heart disease, having an even greater impact than saturated fats.
Scientists have found that the consumption of trans-fats actually raises LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and lowers HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels. This dangerous combination significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes. Eating trans-fats is also associated with a higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes and heart disease.
The majority of trans-fats are formed in an industrial process called ‘hydrogenation’, which adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Trans-fats are also known as ‘partially hydrogenated oils’. Food manufacturers like using trans-fats as they are less likely to spoil, giving food a longer shelf life and a more desirable taste and texture. Many fast-food restaurants use trans-fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans-fats can be used many times in commercial fryers.
Trans-fats are commonly found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines (hard), commercially baked products (biscuits, cakes, muffins, crackers, doughnuts, pastries, pie crusts, pizza dough), some cereal bars, fried foods (hot chips, hamburgers, fried chicken), cheese spreads, commercial cooking oils used for frying in restaurants and any other foods made or fried in partially hydrogenated oils. A small amount of trans-fat is found naturally, primarily in some meat and dairy products.
The majority of trans-fats consumed in the diet come from commercially baked goods, margarine and fast foods.
The US National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine has suggested that the only safe level of trans-fat is zero and that we should eat as little as possible, consistent with a healthy, balanced diet. Given that a lot of people would eat small amounts of naturally occurring trans-fats every day, there is no place for industrially manufactured trans-fats in the diet. Consider that if you ate a doughnut for a mid morning snack, and a cheese burger, thick shake and large fries for lunch, you would be ingesting a whopping 17 g of trans-fats.
The best way to limit trans-fats in your diet is to limit fast foods and processed foods, especially those that contain partial or hydrogenated vegetable oils. This is an indication that the product contains trans-fats. Start using healthy oils that will not turn into trans fats for cooking, such as olive or coconut oil, instead of vegetable oil. Make your own healthy cakes and muffins at home.