Nowadays, the availability of diverse kinds of mouthwatering fast foods and bakery items has made it difficult to control the urge of eating. During movie nights snacks can make the moments more chilling! On a busy morning, fast food can save the office goers from starving. Thus, processed foods have created space in our lives. Dieticians and doctors always advise staying away from trans fats. Why are trans fats so deadly? We will get to know from this article.
What is trans fat?
Trans fat is a type of hydrogenated oil. Trans fats or trans fatty acids are not usually found in nature, and the double bond of their hydrocarbon chain is the root cause of the problem. This double bond hydrocarbon cannot break down in the body and stays in the blood. Only HDL cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein can reduce the trans fat from the body. HDL basically removes all other harmful fats from the blood, so that it does not reach the liver or any vital organs in any way. It also helps to keep the inner wall of the blood vessel thin. Now, if most HDL is spent on removing trans fats, then bad cholesterol levels in the blood can increase, and blood pressure can rise. Hence, it is understandable how harmful trans fats are.
Hydrogenated oil was created to supply cheap edible fats during the First and Second World Wars recession. After that, its use gradually started to increase. However, the harmful aspects of trans fats came to the fore in the 1980s, and since then, the use of hydrogenated oil has been reduced in first-world countries.
Foods high in trans fat
Any deep-fried foods available in the market are the ultimate source of trans fats. Fried foods usually use hydrogenated oil, and the same oil is used over and over. Moreover, hydrogenated oils are used to make bakery products, Biscuits, Chips, etc., which are on our daily food list. In addition, many street foods that are deep-fried also contain trans fats. In addition, using the same oil repeatedly at home also produces trans fats.
Other sources of trans fats are-
- Mayonnaise, butter, spreads, ketchup, balanced vegetable oils, and all kinds of sauces.
- Crackers, chips, nuts, snacks, popcorn, and breakfast cereals.
- Cakes, bun, bakery items, cookies, and other sweetened items.
- Ice cream and some kinds of chocolates.
- Processed cheese, semi-finished products - cold dough, cutlets, pizza, fish sticks, etc.
- Fast food products, like hamburgers, french fries, and donuts.
Foods that naturally contain trans fats
Naturally, trans fats are found in meat and dairy products. Usually, the natural trans fats are formed through the bacteria available in cattle, sheep, and goats' stomachs. These trans fats are accountable for 3-7% of the total dairy fats, including milk and cheese. However, 3-10% trans fats are available in beef and lamb, whole chicken and pork contain 0-2%. Naturally found trans fats are less harmful than artificial trans fats.
How do trans fats affect health?
Trans fats raise blood pressure and reduce insulin secretion. As a result, this increases the risk of stroke and diabetes. Apart from these, trans fats affect the heart badly. High levels of trans fat usually increase the risk of heart disease, including heart attack.
Trans fat is a type of unsaturated fat that increases Low-Density Lipoprotein or LDL, known as 'bad cholesterol' in the blood while reducing the High-Density Lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol (called good cholesterol). As a result, cholesterol accumulates in the arteries, which hinders blood flow and increases the risk of heart diseases significantly.
In Bangladesh, every year, 2 lakh and 77 thousands of people die of heart disease related to trans fats, and at least 5,776 people from trans fats alone. Further, one crore 79 lakh people in the world die from heart disease and out of which about 5.5 lakh people die of heart attack due to consumption of industrial trans-fat.
How much trans fat consumption is allowable per day?
The human body does not need trans fat. Therefore, it is better to consume as little as possible. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association, a healthy human should not take more than 25%-30% of daily calories through fats.
One should not take more than 1% trans fat of daily calories intake. For example, if anyone takes 2,000 calories a day, the trans fat consumption can be about 20 calories or 2 grams per day. However, less than 1% consumption is highly recommended.
How to curb the consumption of trans fat food?
It is difficult to stop taking trans fat completely. However, anyone can reduce trans fat consumption. But keep in mind that trans fat-free food can never ensure that it is 100% fat-free. However, many companies stopped adding trans fats in the food but replaced them with saturated fat. Too much-saturated fat is also harmful to the body.
One can take some steps to reduce trans fat consumption. For example, eating more vegetables, unprocessed whole-grain foods, and fruits can refrain you from eating extra food containing trans fats. Additionally, keeping almonds, cashews, pesto, and peanuts in the diet can help a person avoid foods high in trans fat.
Alternatives of mouthwatering trans fat foods
No one can deny that street foods and deep-fried foods are mouthwatering. But these foods are enriched with trans-fat. So, finding alternatives to these foods will keep one's health fit.
Taking grilled, broiled, and baked food instead of deep-fried food can reduce trans fats consumption. The habit of cooking at home will significantly decrease trans fats. Cooking food with non-hydrogenated margarine will reduce the trans fats in food items.
These ways may not bring down someone's trans fats intake to zero, but the amount of trans fats consumption will be reduced.
There may be differences of opinion regarding proper diet and nutrition, but almost everyone agrees on one thing. That is trans fats! Though fats are a necessary ingredient for a healthy human body, consumption of foods rich in trans fat will increase bad cholesterol and reduce good cholesterol. In the long run, this habit might lead to various heart-related diseases. Therefore, it is essential to develop a healthy diet by replacing trans fat foods with the nutritious ones. Furthermore, using non-hydrogenated oil for daily cooking is recommended to carb trans fat. Finally, checking the food level carefully can help people to stay away from foods that contain trans fats.