Trans fats: What exactly are these trans fats?

Trans fats: We keep hearing this word ‘trans-fat’ everywhere. But what does it actually mean? Well, you must have read this word at the back of many packaged food items, and here’s what it means:

Upon taking a look at the nutritional facts at the back of various baked or other packaged food items, you will realize that all of them have this one ingredient in common. This ingredient is ‘trans-fat’.

Trans fats

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Trans-fats or trans fatty acids (TFA) are what make cookies/ biscuits, muffins and other baked or packaged food items last for up to months after they are manufactured. The oils that are used in making these items are made to undergo a procedure called hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation. Due to this procedure, the shelf life of the oil increases and the food cooked in or using it stays fresh for a very long time as well as its taste remains unchanged. To top it all, it’s pretty cheap too. This process involves adding hydrogen atoms to vegetable oil at very high temperatures.

But the greatest disadvantage that outweighs all the advantages is that such hydrogenated oils are loaded with trans-fats and these trans-fats are extremely unhealthy. The World Health Organization recommends that trans-fats should not make up for more than 1 per cent of a person’s diet. The amount of TFA found in various food items is at least 5 to 12 times more than that!

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Trans fats: What these fats can do to our health?

We already know that trans-fats aren’t really body and health-friendly. But, what do these actually do to our health? What health risks do these trans fatty acids actually pose? Well, the harmful effects of trans fats include:

  • Trans fats contain unhealthy levels of cholesterol. These are known to raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower your HDL (good) cholesterol.
  • Increase our risks of getting cardiovascular diseases.
  • Increase chances of diabetes.
  • Pose higher chances of getting obesity.
  • Also increase the chances of getting type II diabetes.

 

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So, next time you go grocery shopping, make sure that you do not buy any food item whose ingredient list reads the word ‘trans fat’.

 

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