Did you know that regular consumption of food with excess trans fats can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a rise in bad cholesterol levels in your blood, and heart diseases? Do you choose to modify your diet and avoid these harmful fats? Here are some basic details that will help you to make the right food choices when it comes to unhealthy fats, be it ingredients or ready-to-eat food.
A type of unsaturated fat called trans fats occurs in trace amounts naturally in food but in large amounts in processed foods, baked goods, and fried foods, but there are artificial trans fats which are not naturally occurring in foods, that are dangerous to health if consumed regularly or in large amounts. These fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid at room temperature. Such oils are called ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ and are a primary ingredient in processed foods.
Partially hydrogenated oils are found in commercial baked goods, frozen pizza, shortening, nondairy coffee creamer, stick margarine, French fries, cereal bars, crackers, snack pudding, microwave popcorn, and snack mixes. They are also used in deep fryers at many commercial food outlets.
Here are some adverse health effects of trans fats:
- Negative Impact on Cholesterol Levels: Trans fats raise levels of LDL cholesterol (often referred to as “bad” cholesterol) and lower levels of HDL cholesterol (often referred to as “good” cholesterol). This imbalance increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Increased Risk of Heart Disease: Consumption of trans fats is strongly linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, primarily due to their adverse effects on cholesterol levels and inflammation.
- Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: There’s evidence suggesting that trans fats may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by impairing insulin sensitivity.
- Inflammation: Trans fats promote inflammation in the body, which is associated with various chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
- Weight Gain and Obesity: While not as extensively studied as other aspects of trans fat consumption, there’s some evidence to suggest that trans fats may contribute to weight gain and obesity.
- Poorer Cognitive Function: Some studies have suggested a potential link between trans fat consumption and impaired cognitive function and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are some tips to avoid the consumption of trans fats for a healthier life:
- Read the nutrition label on food packages and avoid buying food that has partially hydrogenated fats/oils and shortening.
- Choose food products with the lowest amount of unhealthy fats.
- Choose healthy oils for cooking.
- Avoid deep-fried foods when eating out. Instead choose grilled, steamed, or broiled food.
- When using margarine, choose soft, non-hydrogenated margarine instead of shortening or stick margarine.
- Choose home-cooked and unprocessed food.
- Limit commercially baked food.
A healthy and balanced diet with a reduced intake of food that’s not so nutritious helps you stay healthy and strong.
How do you manage to take care of your diet during a busy day? Do share your tips in the comments.