What are trans fats?
Trans fats are a type of dietary fat that are formed when liquid oils are partially hydrogenated, which makes them more solid and stable at room temperature. These fats are often used in processed foods, such as baked goods, snack foods, and fried foods, to improve texture and increase shelf life.
How do trans fats impact my health?
Consuming these fats in high amounts has been linked to several health risks. One of the most significant is an increased risk of heart disease. Trans fats can raise levels of LDL cholesterol, which is known as "bad" cholesterol, and lower levels of HDL cholesterol, which is known as "good" cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol levels are too high and HDL cholesterol levels are too low, it can lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can restrict blood flow and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Other risks associated with high intake include an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and obesity. Trans fats are also high in calories, so consuming too much of them can lead to weight gain and make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. These fats also put a lot of strain on the liver, which is responsible for processing most of the fats we consume. However, trans fats are harder for the liver to process than the other kinds of fat we eat. When consumed in high amounts over a long time, these fats can build up in the liver and lead to fatty liver disease.
How do I limit how much trans fat I eat?
Some tips for avoiding trans fats include:
- Checking food labels for trans fats and avoiding foods that list "partially hydrogenated oils" or "hydrogenated oils" in the ingredient list
- Choosing foods that are low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fats (for example: fish, nuts, and olive oil)
- Limit or avoid processed foods that are high in trans fats (for example: baked goods, snack foods, and fried foods)
- Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources
So be cautious and remember to read the ingredient list before buying to ensure that the product does not contain any partially hydrogenated oils. In recent years, there has been a push to ban trans fats from the food supply altogether. Some countries, such as Denmark and Switzerland, have already banned trans fats. In 2018, the United States FDA removed trans fats from the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list of food additives and banned their addition to foods.
In conclusion, trans fats are a type of dietary fat that are formed when liquid oils are partially hydrogenated, and they are often found in processed foods. Consuming these fats in excess can increase the risk of several health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, obesity, and fatty liver disease. To avoid overconsumption,choose foods that are low in trans fat and high in unsaturated fats, as well as limiting or avoiding processed foods. Checking food labels and reading ingredient lists can help to ensure that you are making informed choices about the foods you eat.
How can I learn more or get access to healthy foods?
The Wellness League Search Tool helps you find free and low cost programs in your community to learn more about healthy eating or find a food pantry. On the search page, simply enter your zip code and the resource you’re looking to find like “nutrition education” or “food pantry”.