Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Trans Fats: Why the Fuss?
Trans Fats seem to be a hot topic nowadays, but after talking to some patients this morning, I found that actually a lot still don't know much about it. So let me just highlight a few points and link you to some articles which will give you more details.
Sorry, but I couldn't resist taking this picture of Trans-Cab which has nothing to do with Trans-Fats.
Years ago, when people started to use vegetable oils, everyone was so happy because vegetable oils contained polyunsaturated fats. These fats are liquid at room temperature and are better for you as compared to Saturated Fats that you find in animal fats like Butter. The thing is that it is difficult to spread a vegetable oil, so they developed a process called hydrogenation which turned the oil into a fat ie a semisolid at room temperature. Hooray!! Now they have a substitute for butter which can be used for making cookies and other pastries.
So after many years of believing that vegetable oils are better for you, some really smart scientist found out that the hydrogenation of vegetable oils produces trans fatty acids. Then they discovered that trans fatty acids are actually as bad for you as saturated fats!
Both trans fatty acids and saturated fats raise the bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower the good cholesterol (HDL) and by doing so increases the chances for your artery to get clogged up resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
So now some manufacturers are cashing in on the opportunity to highlight that their products contain no trans fatty acids. And quite rightly too. You as the consumer should look at the labels carefully and choose the right foods for the family.
In a nutshell, if you are buying any processed foods such as cookies, margarine, peanut butter or fried stuff such as potato chips (hydrogenation helps to prevent fats from going rancid and increases the shelf life of such products), then look at the label to see if there is any trans fats.
The WHO recommends that trans fats make up less then 1% of your total fat intake per day. This is roughly less than 2g of trans fats per day. When you eat a pack of pototo chips, it typically contains 3g of trans fats.
I promised to keep it short. So that's it from me. If you need more information please click Here and Here.