If you’re just starting to improve your diet, one of the best things you can do is eliminate trans fats. Trans fats are formed when liquid vegetables oils—sunflower, soy, corn, peanut, and so forth—are heated, transformed, and solidified by partial hydrogenation, making them partially hydrogenated oils. When eaten, these hydrogenated oils or trans fats are unnatural to the body, and, so, the body doesn’t know what to do with them, which then results in the formation of free radicals that damage the body in numerous ways, even at the cellular level.
Today, it seems almost everything contains partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats. They are often found in deep fried foods, such as doughnuts, French fries, and egg rolls. Trans fats are also found in margarines, vegetable shortening, breads, potato chips, coffee creamers, crackers, pies, and even peanut butter. Yet, these fats are not exclusively limited to food items because you can also find them in creams, gels, lotions, ointments, and cosmetics.
Trans fats have no nutritional value and are dangerous. NO amount is safe. Trans Fat has no health benefits, and, in fact, raise your risk of heart disease because they raise your LDL “bad” cholesterol and lower you HDL “good” cholesterol. Companies use them because they’re inexpensive and help products last. They also improve taste and texture, and many fast food restaurants use them to deep fry products because the oil can be used over and over.
Unfortunately, according to Elizabeth Howlett, who conducted a study to determine American consumer’s knowledge of trans fats, consumers are unsure how much trans fat is safe, and when consumers compare calories or carbohydrates on the Nutrition Fact label, a couple of grams of trans fat seems harmless. Howlett’s study of 600 adults, showed consumers do not understand trans fats. She found “nutritionally motivated consumers lack appropriate…knowledge [and] make inappropriate product judgments. This is a troubling, unintended consequence of the current trans-fat disclosure on the Nutrition Facts panel.”
The American Heart Association maintains you should eat less than 1 percent in trans fat a day, which is no more than 2 grams of trans fat if you are eating 2,000 calories a day; however, the American Heart Association actually prefers you consume zero, and if you are eating 5 grams a day, you are increasing your risk of heart disease by 25 percent. The American Heart Association suggests replacing trans fats with either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.
For more information on Trans Fat, you can
- Read The Skinny on Fats.
- Read Trans Fats: the Hidden Killer in our Food. This book helps you rid trans fat from your diet once and for all.
- Check out the American Heart Association and visit My Fats Translator. It helps you determine your daily calorie needs, total fat intake, and suggests limits for saturated and trans fat.