“Trans Fats”, we bet this isn’t the first time you heard this term. You may have come across this term in TV advertisements, on food labels, and in health magazines. Whatever you heard about it, we assume it must be bad. There is no denying that trans fats have earned a bad reputation over the years.
But really, how bad are they? Before that, what are they in the first place? Well, if you don’t know much about trans fats, this blog post will enlighten, including their ill effects.
What are trans fats?
Trans fat is a kind of dietary fat. They are made when liquid oils are converted into solid fats, like shortening or margarine (hence, trans fats). These are also known as partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs).
Trans fats are typically found in two forms. One category of it can be found in dairy products and meat. It usually forms in the guts of some animals, hence present in non-vegetarian food options.
The other category of fat is found in processed foods. It is artificially added as partially hydrogenated oil to make the food items more solid, helping in preservation. Being inexpensive, they can be reused to add texture and flavour in some food items.
How bad are trans fats for you?
To be brief, trans fats are the worst type of fat you could be having. It is a big red flag for your health.
For starters, trans fats increase LDL cholesterol. They are most commonly found in foods that use hydrogenated oils. LDL, also known as Low-density lipoprotein and ‘bad cholesterol’, clogs arteries, increasing the risks of blood clots, and ultimately heart attacks, cardiac arrests and stroke.
In addition, they are also linked with type 2 diabetes. As per research, trans fats can also affect insulin resistance for the worse. Additionally, the weight gain caused by trans fats is another trigger for type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance makes it difficult for the body to convert food into energy, ultimately increasing blood sugar levels and building excess sugar in the bloodstream.
Trans fats can also be harmful during pregnancy. They are associated with lower-birth weight and an increased risk of complications, such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
Latest research also suggests that there exists a potential link between trans fat food items and cognitive impairment, and related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. There is no conclusive theory but it is believed that oxidative stress and inflammatory effects of trans fats may lead to neurological damage.
Which food items have trans fats?
Trans fats are usually found in the following categories of food items:
- Fried and battered food items
- Commercially baked cakes and cookies
- Refrigerated dough
- Ready to make food items
- Animal sourced foods, such as red meats and dairy
How much of it should you consume?
While completely avoiding foods containing trans fats is recommended, given the lifestyle we are leading, it may not be possible. So, moderation is the key here. Make sure you don’t exceed the following limits.
- You must not consume more than 25% to 30% of your daily calories from fats.
- Consumption of saturated fats should be limited to less than 10% of your daily calories.
- You should read nutrition facts labels to choose foods with no trans fat whenever possible.
Trans fats v/s good fats
When we say you must limit trans fats, we just mean trans fats, not good fats. Good fats are required by your body and they are present in most healthy food items such as eggs, nuts, avocados, dark chocolate, coconut oil, etc.
So, while you should avoid trans fats, you must not forbid yourself from consuming food items containing healthy fats.
In a nutshell, trans fats are basically the troublemakers in our diets, causing all sorts of health havoc. They’ve been tagged with a bad reputation for upping the risk of heart disease and inflammation. Thankfully, awareness is on the rise, and many places are avoiding trans fats from their food list. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on those food labels, choose healthier options, and maybe ditch the deep-fried cravings for some heart-friendly snacks.
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