Just last month another group of lawmakers proposed a bill to eliminate trans-fats from grade-school lunches. Why do trans-fats continue to be used when all you have heard is bad?
Synthetic trans-fats raise you “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, lower your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and increase your triglycerides. Thus, these synthetic trans-fats increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. An increase in just an extra two percent of calories from synthetic trans-fats per day increases your risk of coronary heart disease by 23 percent. In a 2006 Harvard study on women those that ate the most synthetic trans-fats were more than three times more likely to develop heart disease than those who ate the least amount. Another 2006 Harvard study found that an increase in synthetic trans-fats showed an increase in weight during an eight year study. It has also been associated with inflammation and a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
There are two kinds of trans-fats, natural and synthetic (manufactured). Natural trans-fats are found in certain meat and milk products in small amounts. Researchers are not sure whether these natural trans-fats have the same bad effects as synthetic trans-fats. Health advocates are not suggesting you avoid or limit these natural trans-fats.
Synthetic trans-fats are inexpensive to produce, easy to use, and will last a long time on the shelf. Synthetic trans-fats give food a good taste and texture. Restaurants like trans-fats as they can be used multiple times, especially for frying foods. Trans-fats are made by adding hydrogen atoms to liquid oil, like vegetable oil. On the ingredients label they are listed as partially hydrogenated oils. They are used in many food products including pastries, pie crust, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, stick margarine and shortenings. Fried foods such as French fries and doughnuts usually contain synthetic trans-fats.
Experts are agreeing that no amounts of synthetic trans-fats are safe to consume. We need to avoid or at least limit them. So how do you find them? The Nutrition Facts label on food can provide part of the information. Trans-fats do appear on the label, but the government allows the manufacturers to claim 0 trans-fats if the food contains less than 0.5 grams of fat. If you want to avoid trans-fat completely you need to look at the ingredient label of the food and see if “partially hydrogenated” is listed. These key words identify synthetic trans-fats in food. You want to be sure to limit your consumption of trans-fats to less than one percent of your total calories per day. If you consume 2000 calories a day that would be eating less than 2 grams of trans-fats a day.
When shopping look at the ingredients of the food if “partially hydrogenated oil or shortening” is listed try to find a similar food that does not include the words “partially hydrogenated.” Check the ingredients on the foods listed above and pot pies, and microwave popcorn.
When cooking at home use oil preferably olive, canola, or vegetable oils. Limit or avoid use of shortenings and stick margarines unless trans-fat free.
Being choosy now can lower your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and possibly, type 2 diabetes.
American Heart Association, . Trans Fats, Downloaded on 2/26/12 from
Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source: Shining the Spotlight on Trans Fats, University of Harvard, Downloaded on 2/26/2012 from
Mayo Clinic staff, [5-6-2011]. Trans Fats are double trouble for Your Heart Health , Mayo Clinic
Downloaded on 2/26/12 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trans-fat/CL00032