Trans Fats & their Dangers

trans fats and their dangers, diseases associated with trans fats, products containing trans fats
Photo by Franck Boston

You might have already heard about how unhealthy trans fats are. Studies have found a direct correlation between trans fat intake and known health issues. Various awareness campaigns and regulations in recent years did manage to reduce their use.

However, do you know exactly what trans fats are, and why you should avoid them? If not, it’s a great place for you to get to know about everything you need about trans fats and how you can adjust your diet.

What are trans fats?

Trans-fatty acids are a form of unsaturated fat. There are two types of trans fats. The first type occurs naturally in meat and dairy products of ruminant animals such are cow and sheep. They comprise around 2 to 5% of total fat in this kind of animals.

The second kind, consumed in a far more significant amount is artificial or industrial trans fat. They are made in the process of adding hydrogen molecules to vegetable oils. This process allows the oil to solidify at room temperature at the same time increasing their longevity and stabilizing the flavour of the food.

Which products contain trans fats?

Here are some of the most common sources, and the percentage of trans fat they contain:

  • Margarine – up to 27%
  • Butter – up to 7%
  • Spreads – 10 to 33%
  • Cakes – up to 33%
  • Doughnuts – 27 %
  • Salty snacks – up to 4%
  • Cookies and crackers – up to 10%
Labels on foods contain trans fats description
Photo by JohnKwa

Pay close attention to the labels! ‘Partially hydrogenated oils’ marks that the product contains trans fats.

Recommended Daily Consumption

Trans fatty acids are not essential in our diet. They provide no benefits to our health. As such, you should avoid them as much as possible. There is no recommended daily consumption or a minimum amount you need to intake.

However, since they are present in many food products, you wouldn’t be able to eliminate them. At least, not without creating other imbalances in your nutrition.

According to the World Health Organization, your daily trans fat intake should be limited to less than 1% of total energy intake.

That means you should eat less than 2.5 g of trans fats per day, assuming you are on a 2500 calorie/day diet. 

Known Health Issues Attributed to Trans Fats

The main reason trans-fatty acids are harmful to your health is their influence on your cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol is essential for your body to work properly. Still, having a too high concentration of cholesterol in your blood raises the risk of coronary artery disease.

There are two types of cholesterol:

– Low-density lipoprotein(LDL)

trans-fatty acids influence on your cholesterol levels, causing atherosclerosis
Photo by agartist

LDL is widely known as ‘bad’ cholesterol. The high levels of LDL in your blood, together with other substances, form plaque. The plaque builds up in your arteries and causes atherosclerosis. A blood clot may form blocking blood flow to your heart or brain. That, in turn, causes a heart attack or a stroke.

 

– High-density lipoprotein (HDL)

HDL is known as ‘good’ cholesterol. His primary function is to carry cholesterol from all over the body to your liver. The liver then naturally removes cholesterol from your body.

Clinical studies have shown that people with a high intake of trans fats have raised levels of LDL, while their HDL levels are lower.

Correlation between trans fats and diabetes aren’t apparent. Nonetheless, studies show that people with a higher amount of trans-fatty acids in their diet have a higher risk of diabetes. Direct research on animals does show that a high amount of trans fat harms insulin function. That said, human studies still give us mixed results.

Here are some other known diseases and consequences:

– obesity
– liver dysfunction
– infertility in women
– diminished memory
– acne
– Alzheimer Disease
– cancer

As you can see, there is substantial evidence of direct and indirect consequences of fat-rich diets to your health.

Conclusion

Trans fats aren’t necessary for your diet and give no known benefits. Most products from ruminant animals naturally contain them. The natural concentration of trans fats in these products shouldn’t cause any concern.

The most hazardous and widely consumed are artificial trans fats. This type contains in industrially processed oils and can cause a plethora of health issues.

New regulations try to limit and hopefully eliminate this hazardous ingredient from the food industry. Unfortunately, the overall consumption is at a high level. It is up to you to recognize and avoid food that will be harmful to your health.

You should definitely limit the frequency and amount of unhealthy food you eat and find healthier alternatives. This is going to be your confident step to get healthier, stronger, and more beautiful. ❤️


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