Following a New York City restaurant wide ban in 2008, trans fat grew to infamy, and a new spotlight shone on these dangerous and life-threatening fats. Sure, there are various types of trans fat that occur naturally (which aren’t a cause for worry), most of the trans fats, the trans fats you should stay away from, are created by taking unsaturated fats, which are usually liquid at room temperature, and processing them with chemicals to turn them into solid fats. The main compound used is hydrogen, and the process of adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats is called partial hydrogenation.
What Do They Do?
Trans fats are unhealthy and dangerous for your health, and especially your heart. Unsaturated fats are responsible for raising your bad LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) and lowering your good HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein). Saturated fats, on the other hand, are responsible for raising both the LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. All this rising and lowering takes a physical toll on your heart. Even the addition of a few extra grams of trans fat (around 4 grams in a typical 2,000 calorie diet) in a day can increase the risk of heart disease and blockages by 23 percent!
How to Avoid Them
Eating whole foods which have undergone minimal processing is the best way to avoid trans fats. When buying processed foods, make sure to always check the contents label. Most packaged foods have labels with a line stating its trans fat content. Even if the item has listed trans fat of zero grams, or even no trans fat, it cannot be trusted. Most labeling laws have a loophole that allows food manufacturers to print zero grams of trans fat if the said product has less than 1/2 gram of trans fat, per serving. The ‘per serving’ part is important, as multiple servings end up adding up to a lot of trans fat. In order to completely avoid trans fat, one needs to shift their attention towards the ingredients list. If the words “partially hydrogenated” are printed on the label, then the product definitely contains trans fat.