What Are Trans Fats?
A good many people that are at least somewhat health-conscious shudder at the word trans fat. After all, trans fats are bad and clog your arteries right? The answer is yes and no. There is a distinction between good trans fats and bad trans fats. In fact, good trans fats are associated with fat loss, building muscle, and even cancer prevention. The trans fats that we hear about so much about in the news – the bad trans fats are linked to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The bad trans fats are possibly the worst food additive around and can be found in most all processed foods, fast foods, margarine and deep fried foods to name the most common. Unlike other members of the fat family (saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats), trans fats are largely artificial fats. A small amount of trans fats occurs naturally in meat and dairy products.
Why Man-Made Trans Fats?
To put it simply, trans fats are food industry friendly. Partially hydrogenated fats, or trans fats, extend the shelf life of food and make food more palatable. The process of hydrogenation also makes re-usability of deep-fat frying possible. By this process, liquid vegetable oils are packed with hydrogen atoms and converted into a solid fat. This man-made alteration to an otherwise healthy monounsaturated fat oil in its original state works well for the food industry because of its high melting point, its creamy, smooth texture and its reusability in deep-fat frying.
Man-Made Trans Fats And Why They Are Bad For You
Partial hydrogenation involves the use of the use of chemical solvents like hexane (a component of gasoline), high heat and pressure. It then has a metal catalyst added and in the final process, it is deodorized and bleached. The finished oil still contains small traces of the chemical solvent. The health dangers of these hydrogenated oils are widely accepted by health experts and are well-documented, yet the FDA still allows food manufacturers to put this poison into our foods with little discretion. These hydrogenated oils cause inflammation inside of your body. Consequently, the body’s natural reaction is to deposit cholesterol as a healing agent on the artery walls. With that being said, clogged arteries are the end result of hydrogenated oils being introduced into your body. Is it any wonder that heart disease has become so epidemic the last half century after this poison was introduced into our food supply?
Mad-Made Trans Fats – A Healthier Alternative?
Hydrogenated fats were supposed to be a healthier alternative to saturated fats. For years, we were led to believe that stick margarine was healthier for you than Butter, yet numerous studies now prove the contrary – they are actually much worse. Although it is a true statement that saturated fats raise total and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. trans fats do precisely the same, but they also strip levels of good (HDL) cholesterol – the kind that helps unclog arteries. Hence, it should be no surprise that trans fats are considered one of the main factors for the explosion of heart disease since approximately the 1950′s.
The Good Trans Fats
There is such a thing as healthy natural trans fats. Natural trans fats are created in the stomachs of ruminant animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, etc. and make their way into the fat stores of the animals. Therefore, the milk fat and the fat within the meat of these animals are a source for natural healthy trans fats (best in grass-fed organic versions only).
Trans Fat Bans
Overtime, as scientific research continues to make new discoveries on just how dangerous these hydrogenated oils actually are, eventually they will be illegal and banned from use. Labeling laws are already in effect. In fact, some countries have already banned the use of hydrogenated oils in food manufacturing or at least set dates to permanently phase them out.
Highly Refined Oils
Be aware that as companies are starting to phase out the use of hydrogenated oils in processed foods, they are replacing them in most cases, with highly refined polyunsaturated oils such as soybean oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil and the like. These are still heavily-processed oils using high heat, solvents, deodorizers, and bleaching agents. Even refined oils have proven to create inflammation in your body just as hydrogenated oils do. Thus, many new foods on the market claim “trans fat-free”, but use heavily refined oils (even if they’re non-hydrogenated) that wreak havoc on your body and are very inflammatory.
Avoid Highly Processed Foods
Trans Fat And Food Labels
When reading food labels for trans fat information, keep in mind that if a quantity of trans fat is listed on a meat or dairy product, it is more than likely the natural good trans fat that was previously mentioned. Otherwise, if the quantity of trans fat is listed on any processed foods, it is more than likely the dangerous unhealthy poison from artificially hydrogenated oils. On the subject of food labels, also bear in mind that food manufacturers are permitted to label a food “trans fat free” if 1 serving size contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat. Thus, some foods may have hydrogenated oils as their main ingredient, but the serving size is made so small, they can still label it “trans fat free” if it contains less than .5 grams of trans fat.
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