The Dangers Of Trans Fats

The proliferation of trans-fatty acids in the food supply is one of the most contributing factor to many diseases that have become common in the last hundred years.

Experts blame trans fats for at least 30,000 premature deaths a year. Experts now say trans fats are “the biggest food-processing disaster in U.S. history”.

What are trans-fats?

Trans fats are processed fats that have been chemically transformed and have been hardened or hydrogenated to produce margarine or solid vegetable shortening. Trans-fats are formed during a chemical process called hydrogenation whereby cellular chains of fats are artificially altered to create a more solid, stable substance. The body does not recognize these fats as natural fats, and as a result these fats are virtually impossible for our bodies to break down.

Trans-fats that cannot be digested, build up in the arteries. It is known as an abnormality in the metabolism of fats. What is harmful is not fat itself, but the oxidation of fat. Oxidation of fat is the result of fat exposure to oxygen, or fat heating.

At high temperatures, oils oxidize rapidly and have a chemical shift to trans-fats which are harmful to our body.

Studies have shown that trans fatty acids, or trans fats, are worse for our bodies than saturated fats such as butter and lard. They are believed to interfere with the body’s ability to efficiently process good fats.

Recent research shows that commercially produced trans fatty acids are to a large extent responsible for the development of cardiovascular diseases. They also may have a negative impact on fetus weight and may be connected to Type 2 diabetes. The mounting evidence motivated the public health sectors to develop a clearer understanding of the health implications of fats on consumer health and wellness.

In its July 2002 report to the FDA, the National Academies of Sciences called trans fats unsafe to consume in any amount.

  • Trans fatty acids contribute to essential fatty acid deficiency because they inhibit biological function of the cell membranes, and block the natural biochemical pathways, which regulate all human functions.
  • Trans fatty acids adversely affect immune response by lowering efficiency of B cell response and increasing proliferation of T cells.
  • Trans- fats in the diet enhance the body’s pro-inflammatory hormones (prostaglandin E2), and inhibit the anti-inflammatory types (prostaglandin E1 and E3). This undesirable influence exerted by trans- fats on prostaglandin balance may render you more vulnerable to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and psoriasis.

Trans-fats raise the risk of breast cancer

An increased intake of trans-fatty acids may raise the risk of breast cancer by 75 percent, suggest the results from the French part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.

Women with breast cancer have higher levels of trans fats in their bodies than other women, suggesting–but not proving–that eating trans may raise the risk of the disease, says a new report from the European Community Multi-center Study on Antioxidants, Myocardial Infarction, and Breast Cancer.

The researchers found that women with the highest blood levels of trans-fats had about twice the risk of breast cancer compared to women with the lowest levels.

“At this stage, we can only recommend limiting the consumption of processed foods, the source of industrially produced trans-fatty acid,” the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Trans-fats can clog arteries

The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, has found a relationship between the intake of trans fat and the increased risk for heart disease.

Trans fats have the worst effect on your cholesterol levels of all fats. They drive up your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol … at the same time lowering your levels of heart-protective HDL cholesterol. Trans fats’ overall effect on your cholesterol levels is … twice as bad as the effect of saturated fats.

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Recently, trans fats have also come under fire for damaging the lining of your arteries. It’s this damage that leads to hardening of the arteries and higher blood pressure. The linings of your arteries play a very important role in controlling blood pressure. When these vital linings become damaged, their function is impaired — resulting in high blood pressure.

Trans fats can also disrupt electricity in the heart

Most people know that eating the wrong kind of fat can cause a heart attack. But researchers from the University of Alberta have discovered even worse news attributable to trans fats and saturated fats — they can also wreak havoc with the electricity in your heart, worsening the severity of heart attacks and increasing the risk of death.

They discovered that in addition to affecting the heart vessels, “bad” fats also affect the cells of the heart, causing an excessive build-up of calcium within the cells, and disrupting the rhythm of electricity flow in your heart.

In conclusion, I would advise you to avoid ALL FORMS of trans-fats. Eating trans-fatty acids in margarine, vegetable shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils will only cause your overall health to sink into deep decline.

Where are trans-fats most commonly found?

Trans fatty acids are commonly found in most commercially baked cookies, cakes, pastries, and margarines [you should look for spreads made from natural non hydrogenated oils]. If the label states hydrogenated vegetable oil, or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, stay away from that product.

Here’s where artificial trans are found, based on Food and Drug Administration data:

  • 51% in baked goods (breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, pies)
  • 22% in margarines
  • 10% in fried potatoes
  • 6% in potato chips, corn chips
  • 5% in shortening
  • 4% in salad dressing
  • 1% in breakfast cereals

Recently, there has been a proposal put forward that would obligate food manufacturers to appropriately label all products that contain such oils. This is the result of many studies that have proven the detrimental effect that hydrogenated fats have on the cardiovascular system.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires food manufacturers to list trans fat (i.e., trans fatty acids) on Nutrition Facts and some Supplement Facts panels. Scientific evidence shows that consumption of saturated fat, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels that increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, over 12.5 million Americans suffer from CHD, and more than 500,000 die each year. This makes CHD one of the leading causes of death in the United States today.

Be aware that, all liquid unsaturated vegetable oils, including, soy, sunflower, canola, and corn, will produce trans fatty acids when they are heated to temperatures above the boiling temperature of water. The more unsaturated the oil, the more heat applied, the more trans fatty acids will be formed.

Therefore, do not use even so-called natural vegetable oils for high heat frying and baking.

Beware of fish or any other foods cooked in commercial vegetable oils! Once that vegetable oil smokes or becomes rancid, or any fat smokes for that matter, you have problems big time!

Which 0ils Are Recommended?

The safest oils to use for frying and baking purposes are:

  • Natural saturated fats such as (organic) butter and coconut oil. Although coconut oil is predominately a saturated fat, it does not have a negative effect on cholesterol. Natural, nonhydrogenated coconut oil tends to increase HDL cholesterol and improve the cholesterol profile. HDL is the good cholesterol that helps protect against heart disease.
  • Monounsaturated oils- such as Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grapeseed oil, and Avocado oil. [Avocado oil has a very high smoke point by comparison to other cooking oils, even olive oil].

Grapeseed Oil is an ideal salad dressing, cooking , frying & baking oil that raises HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers the LDL (bad cholesterol), reducing a primary risk factor for heart disease.
Grapeseed Oil, a byproduct of wine production, has been a favorite of European chefs for hundreds of years due to its many fine qualities as an edible oil. Recent studies have demonstrated that grapeseed oil may also be effective in correcting blood cholesterol levels in certain individuals, thereby reducing their risk of cardiac events.

Saturated and monounsaturated fats are more stable under heat, making them ideal for cooking. This is due to the fact that the more a fat is saturated; the more stable it is chemically. The saturated fatty acids contained in these fats/oils are inert and therefore heat stable. Heat does not destroy them in the same way it destroys fats that contain essential fatty acids.

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