The use of Trans Fat in food industry has been a subject of a long debate for quite a long period of time. It is well known that accumulation of fat in any form in the body is not good for health. Of all forms of fats that can be present in the body, Trans Fat is perhaps the only form of fat which is potentially bad and more dangerous than any other form of fats and since it is still being used widely by food product manufacturers it a cause of grave concern for many medical professionals.
Trans Fat tends to accumulate in the body and is not absorbed which tends to cause many complications like obesity and other medical condition which may be potentially serious. Trans Fat is mostly used in processed food which is widely used in the United States and hence is a grave cause for concern. This article gives an overview of what are Trans Fats, how they are made, and why it is bad for the health of an individual.
What is Trans-Fat?
Fats are basically of two types which are the saturated fats and the unsaturated fats which are further divided into cis fats and Trans fats. While the other types of fats can be melted at room temperature and hence have a shorter life span, Trans fats cannot be melted due to its chemical combination and hence stays active for a longer period of time. Hence food processed by using Trans Fat tends to last longer and is more profitable for food manufacturers.
Trans Fats is used mostly in processed foods which can be put in a refrigerator for a long period of time and still can be cooked and consumed. What processed food manufacturers do is add artificial Trans Fat and label it as “Partially Hydrogenated Oils” to increase the flavor, texture, and life of the food product. After careful research, foods made from partially hydrogenated oils have been banned by the FDA due to its adverse effects on the health of an individual but this ban does not involve the Trans Fats which are found in beef, lamb, and dairy products which contain fats. Due to this ban, processed food manufacturers are gradually doing away from using partially hydrogenated oils but still some percent of Trans Fats remain in processed foods like cookies, waffles, french fries and the like.
How are Trans Fat Made?
Trans Fats are made by a process called as hydrogenation. Hydrogenation begins up by heating liquid cooking oil with hydrogen atoms after adding a catalyst. When the fats present in the oil become fully hydrogenated which means that they maximum possible number of hydrogen atoms bound to them then they become solid. These are called as saturated fats and are found in meat and some dairy products which are not that bad for the health of an individual. The problem starts when the oil is partially hydrogenated which means that not all hydrogen atoms are bound to the fats. This creates a viscous like oils like margarine. This is when Trans Fat are created and this is how Trans Fat are formed. The advantages of partially hydrogenated oils are that food prepared by this oil can be stored for long period of time and will not get spoilt.
Trans Fat can also be found in some types of meat products naturally but they are not that dangerous than the Trans Fat that are produced artificially and used to make products like chips, waffles, cookies and the like.
How to Check whether there are Trans Fats in the Foods that You Buy?
Whenever you go to a shopping store and buy processed foods make sure that you check the ingredient list which is mandatory to be mentioned in every processed food. Even if the list states 0% Trans Fat that does not mean that it does not contain any amount of Trans Fats. There may be some percent of Trans Fat in the food item but proportionately very minimal amount. Also look for the word “partially hydrogenated oils” which is a give away for Trans Fat and avoid such foods, as these are nothing but Trans Fat.
Why Trans Fat is Considered as Bad?
Now, coming to the main question as to why Trans Fat are considered bad for overall health. Studies have shown that there is absolutely no health benefit from Trans Fat. Foods with Trans Fat may feel very good in taste and may last longer but the effect it has on the body is something that one needs to look at.
When one consumes Trans Fat, it gets accumulated around the fat tissues and hampers the metabolism of fats. They prevent them from mixing with the proteins and thus fats are not able to be absorbed completely and stay in the body and gradually these tissues start to grow and with time the tissues are completely surrounded by Trans Fat. This accumulation leads to increase in LDL or what we know as bad cholesterol which may put an individual at risk for various cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus.
Another adverse effect from consumption of Trans Fat is that since fats does not get absorbed by the body it leads to significant increase in weight and an individual may become obese over a period of time which is also another reason why one should stay away from food products containing Trans Fat.
Another factor that proves that Trans Fat are bad for you is that while Trans Fat increase the levels of LDL significantly it does not have any effects on the levels of HDL or the good cholesterol and hence the balance of the LDL and HDL becomes awry which in time causes serious complications, including a potential risk for a stroke later on in life. Due to high level of LDL present in the body, there may be blockage of the arteries also.
To summarize, Trans Fat which is nothing but an artificial means of making a food product delicious and longer lasting and is not at all safe for consumption. This may not be good news for fast food lovers or people who love cookies or French Fries but this is the reality and even if you need to eat such things you should make sure to check whether the product contains any element of Trans Fat in it or not.
Obesity is a menace in today’s world and most of it is caused by consumption of Trans Fat and this gives one more reason for an individual to stay away from Trans Fat as when consumed Trans Fat immediately converts into body fat and once this process starts obesity is not a long way away along with its inherent complications of various medical conditions and complications.
Fresh Foods is the way to go instead of processed food so that there is no need to worry about any trans fat in the body and the adverse effects of trans fat and you can stop worrying how bad trans fat is for you.