Are confused about good fats and bad fats? Did you know that some fats make you fat and others can make you slim? Some fats give you energy and others zap it. Some fats improve the way every cell in your body functions while others interfere with their vital functions. Two fats, Omega 3 and Omega 6, are essential for your health but trans fats or hydrogenated fats interfere with your detox system and cause many health problems..
What are trans fats & hydrogenated fats?
Trans fats were mainly an invention of the food manufacturers. In order to harden and increase the shelf life of good oils so they can be used in margarines, spreads, baked good, and other dishes, they subject them to a process known as hydrogenation.
This results in twisted molecules known as trans fatty acids. Although you can get a very small amount of natural trans fats from beef and dairy foods it is the artificial trans fats that are bad for you. They are worse than the saturated fats that they replaced.
According to food scientist Prof Tony Blake newer technology has allowed margarine manufacturers to produce products that do not contain trans fats. but I am not convinced that the quality of the oil they use in the process is healthy to start with.
Why are trans fats bad?
Many studies have shown that trans fats increase the level of the “bad” LDL cholesterol, lower the “good” HDL cholesterol and make your blood sticky increasing your risk for heart disease. They increase Lp(a), the strongest risk factor for heart disease.
As if this is not enough trans fatty acids interfere with the function of insulin and your immune system. They are linked with an increase of abnormal sperm and lower testosterone levels. They take the place of the good omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids in your cells and interfere with important enzymes in your detox system.
Legislation to ban trans fats
Health experts everywhere agree trans fats are bad news and Denmark, Switzerland and Canada were the first countries to ban them. From 2008 all restaurants in New York were required to eliminate trans fats from their menus. California has now done the same.
In the USA legislation required that food manufacturers stated the levels of fatty acids on their product labels. But don’t think that you aren’t eating them if you see a label claiming free from trans fats. Due to labeling laws foods that contain less than 0.5g of trans-fats per serving can be labeled as being free from them. You might be getting more than you bargained for if you eat a lot of these.
In the UK major food manufacturers and retailers recently started to remove trans fats from their products voluntarily and began to provide information on labels. This is all well and good but the Food Standards Agency who advise the Government decided that legislation to ban them was not necessary.
There are many experts who do not agree with this . Professor Stender, a Danish cardiologist, believes that a ban is necessary throughout the EU. He says that voluntary codes are inadequate and that restaurants need to be forced to take action too.
In the past 2 years food manufacturers in New Zealand and Australia have cooperated with health advisers and replaced unhealthy fats with healthier fats. It has been reported that New Zealanders and Australians are eating less than 1 % trans fats in their diets.
Experts believe that in other countries the amount of trans fats that are being consumed has been grossly underestimated. Did you know for example that the average donut (doughnut) contains a shocking 3.5 grams of damaging trans fatty acids?
Which products contain trans fats?
While you can rely on food labels to a certain extent what about food you buy like bread, cookies, cakes, or fast foods that don’t come in packages with labels? You have no idea of the trans fats you might be getting from them.
Some unlabeled foods that often contain trans fats:
- Cookies, donuts, muffins, crackers
- Cakes and pies
- Microwave popcorn
- Fries (chips)
- Instant latte coffee
- Fried chicken, fried sandwiches, onion rings etc.
In the UK they may also be in:
- stock cubes
- packet soups,
- pancake mixes,
- cereal bars
- some health supplements
How to avoid trans fats
- Avoiding the types of foods listed above that are likely to contain trans fats is obvious.
- Read labels carefully and choose products without trans or hydrogenated fats..
- Avoid buying refined supermarket oils. Look for cold pressed oils instead.
- Avoid fried food when eating out. Choose grilled, steamed or broiled instead.
- Cook your own meals from fresh produce whenever possible.
- Choose naturally low fat foods like fruits, vegetables, green leaves, free range or organic chicken and turkey, clean fish, whole grains, beans and lentils, organic breads and naturally sweetened cereals.
- Eat some health fats like fresh nuts and seeds, cold pressed oils, wild salmon, free range meat and avocados.
I have to point out that some restaurants and fast food outlets are now using frying oil that is free of trans fats and some even advertise the fact. However, according to Dr Udo Erasmus, an authority on fatty acids, heating oils changes the chemistry of the molecules so they do not fit into the body’s biochemistry.
By avoiding trans fats or hydrogenated fats you will be doing yourself a huge favor. Your health will not suffer as much and your detox system can function normally.