Trans Fatty Acids: The Worst Type of Fat
They are aso formed when vegetable oils are being used for frying.
If oil is used only once, like when you fry an egg, it’s not too bad. However, if oil is constantly reused, like in fast food french fry machines, the levels of trans fatty acids go up significantly.
By many food companies, trans fat is being used instead of oil in highly-processed, lipid-requiring products because it
However, this dangerous fat decreases human life. Due to altered chemical structure (trans bonds), it is carcinogenic, or cancer-causing.
Trans Fats Increase Blood Triglycerides Level
A new study involving pigs showed that two weeks on a high trans-fat diet can significantly increase LDL-"bad" cholesterol (Henderson K. K. PhD, Experimental Biology 2004.).
In this study, four adult pigs were placed on three different high-fat diets.
For two 14-day periods, the pigs consumed:
Pigs eating a high trans-fat diet had:
This important evidence shows clearly the health risks of hydrogenated soybean oil (a trans fat) virtually used in all packaged and fried foods available for consumption.
Unfortunately, foods containing trans fat still sell because the American public is afraid of the alternative: saturated fats found in tallow, lard, butter, palm oil and coconut oil - fats traditionally used for frying and baking.
Yet the scientific literature delineates a number of vital roles for dietary saturated fats.
How to Determine the Amount of Trans Fat?
One problem with the use of trans fat is that food companies are not required to list it on nutrition labels so we, consumers, have no way of knowing how much trans fat is in the food we are eating.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") has recently taken the position that “intake of trans fats should be as low as possible.” This is the only legal food ingredient that merits such strong concern by the FDA.
A 2002 survey revealed that almost 80 percent of Americans generally got all their nutritional information from food labels – a clear indication that the information provided on food products must be
There are recommended maximum daily allowances for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium on the FDA approved Nutrition Facts labels on food packages. However, there is no upper safety limit recommended for the daily intake of trans fat.
For example, the labels state that 25 grams of saturated fat can be consumed daily as part of a 2,500 calorie diet.
However, there is no legal requirement to list trans fat on the label.
We are being deceived. We see the saturated fat listed, but we don't realize that trans fat is also in there. This Nutrition Facts label shows 5 grams of fat of which 1 gram is saturated fat.
What are the other 4 grams? Perhaps 2 or 3 grams of trans fat? Why doesn't the trans fat have to be listed like the saturated fat?
This deceptive labeling the FDA will be stopped in 2006.
In the meantime, we need to fend for ourselves when making food choices. One tip to determine the amount of trans fat in a food is to read the ingredient label and look for shortening, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. The higher up on the list these ingredients appear, the more trans fat.
You can also add up the amount of fat in a product (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), provided the amounts are listed, and compare the total with the total fat on the label. If they don’t match up, the difference is likely trans fat, especially if partially hydrogenated oil is listed as one of the first ingredients.
Let's use regular peanut butter as an example. As stated in the Nutritional Information, 1 tablespoon (14 grams) contains 6.6 g of total fat, including
The difference of 0.2 g is most probably trans fat not listed on the label (other ingredients include corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oil).
A one-kilo jar of that peanut butter would contain, respectively, over 471 g of total fat with over 14 g of trans fat hidden in it.
A few companies, like Nestle and Kraft, have already taken steps to eliminate or reduce trans fat in some products. However, Oreo cookies still contain trans fat, making them dangerous to eat.
Although some companies have started to produce chips without trans fat, the high temperatures used to cook them will potentially cause the formation of carcinogenic substances like acrylamide, and this risk remains even if the trans fat is removed.
In March 2003, Denmark issued new regulations limiting the amount of trans fat in processed foods. Denmark's food minister said: "We put the public health above the industry's interests."
There is usually a stress behind the eating comfort food, especially sweet and salty. Turning to it helps relieve the tension creating a vicious cycle of weight gain and other health problems.
The Top 10 "Trans-Fat" Foods
Margarine is a twisted sister -- it's loaded with trans fats and saturated fats, both of which can lead to heart disease. Other non-butter spreads and shortening also contain large amounts of trans fat and saturated fat, such as:
Soft-tub margarine is less likely to have trans fat. However, cooking with margarine or shortening will not increase the amount of trans fat in food. They are already bad, so you won't make them any worse.
Note: Fully hydrogenated oils do not contain trans fat. However, if the word "hydrogenated" is used without the word "partially," that product may contain partially hydrogenated oil. (Not all labeling is accurate and the word "partially" may have been wrongfully omitted).
2. Packaged foods
Tip: Get out the crock-pot and recipe book.
4. Fast Food
Even if the chains use liquid oil, fries are sometimes partially fried in trans fat before they're shipped to the restaurant.
Pancakes and grilled sandwiches also have some trans fat, from margarine slathered on the grill.
Tip: Order your meat broiled or baked. Skip the pie. Forget the biscuit. Skip the fries -- or share them with many friends.
5. Frozen Food
In frozen foods, baked is always heart-healthier than breaded. Even vegetable pizzas aren't flawless; they likely have trans fat in the dough.
Pot pies are often loaded with too much saturated fat, even if they have no trans fat, so forget about it.
6. Baked Goods
Doughnuts contain shortening in the dough and are cooked in trans fat. They have about 35 percent to 40 percent trans fat.
Cookies and cakes (with shortening-based frostings) from supermarket bakeries have plenty of trans fat.
Some higher-quality baked goods use butter instead of margarine, so they contain less trans fat, but more saturated fat.
Tip: Get back to old-fashioned home cooking again. If you bake, use fat-substitute baking products, or just cut back on the bad ingredients.
Don't use the two sticks of butter or margarine the recipe calls for two. Try using one stick and a fat-free baking product.
7. Chips and Crackers
Anything fried (like potato chips and corn chips) or buttery crackers have trans fat.
8. Breakfast food
Cereals with nuts do contain fat, but it's healthy fat.
9. Cookies and Candy
10. Toppings and Dips
Tip: Keep an eye out for fat-free products of all types. As for salad dressings, opt for old-fashioned oil-and-vinegar dressing. Natural oils such as olive oil don't contain trans fat.
Can you eliminate trans fats entirely your diet? Probably not.
The goal is to have as little trans fat in your diet as possible. However, the only safe level would be zero.
PLEASE NOTE: You may still come across statements questioning the negative infulence of trans fat on human health:
Mother's Milk High in Trans Fats
Canadian breast milk, not just chicken nuggets and french fries, is one of the highest sources of trans fatty acids in Canada's food supply.
The average lactating woman in Canada consumes 10.6 grams of trans fatty acids per day, mostly cakes, flaky pastries, potato chips and other fried and processed food. And the harmful fats account for seven percent of total fat in her breast milk, University of Guelph Prof. Dr. Bruce Holub told a 23-member panel charged with finding ways to eliminate, or reduce to the lowest levels possible, trans fatty acids in foods sold in Canada.
Trans fats have been linked to low birth weight in babies and to a potentially dangerous form of high blood pressure in pregnancy.
It does not mean that women should stop breast-feeding. The quality of breast milk can be improved by cutting industrialized trans fats "off at the source." If women reduce their intake of trans fat, within days their breast milk benefits.
Trans fats should be reduced to the lowest levels possible. However, one of the biggest problems is if you take trans fats out of food, what do you replace it with?
Eliminating trans fats from packaged foods could see a return to oils with higher saturated fat content. Gram for gram, however, trans fatty acids cause a five to six times higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats.
One of the other fears is that, if more commercially fried food and bakery products start labelling themselves as "trans-fat free," it will just encourage people to eat more of them. In other words, it could increase consumption of foods we otherwise would not want to be consumed.
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