The dangers of consuming trans fats
Trans fats, also known as trans fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat that have been chemically altered to make them more stable. They are found in many processed foods, including baked goods, fried foods, and snack foods. While small amounts of trans fats are naturally occurring in some foods, the majority of trans fats in our diet come from partially hydrogenated oils which are used to prolong the shelf life of these foods.
The health risks of consuming trans fats
Consuming trans fats has been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that trans fats can raise your cholesterol levels, which increases your risk of developing heart disease. In fact, researchers have estimated that if everyone in the United States replaced just 1% of their daily calorie intake from trans fats with healthy fats, such as olive oil or avocado, it could prevent between 2,000 and 6,000 deaths from heart disease each year.
Trans fats have also been linked to an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. One study found that people who consumed high levels of trans fats had a 34% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Additionally, trans fats have been shown to interfere with the body's ability to use insulin properly, which can lead to high blood sugar levels and eventually, type 2 diabetes.
The impact of trans fats on children's health
Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative health effects of consuming trans fats. Studies have shown that children who consume foods high in trans fats have lower levels of "good" cholesterol and higher levels of "bad" cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease later in life. Additionally, trans fats have been shown to contribute to the development of insulin resistance in children, which can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Several countries, including Denmark and Switzerland, have banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils in their food supply. In 2015, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer "generally recognized as safe" and required food manufacturers to remove them from their products by June 2018. This is a positive step in the right direction, but it is still important for consumers to be aware of the potential dangers of trans fats.
How to avoid trans fats in your diet
The easiest way to avoid trans fats is to avoid processed foods and fried foods. Instead, focus on whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats like avocados and nuts. When grocery shopping, be sure to read the labels carefully. Look for foods that do not contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. It's also important to be aware that even if a food label says "trans-fat-free," it may still contain small amounts of trans fats.
If you do choose to consume processed foods that may contain trans fats, be sure to do so in moderation. Try to limit your intake of these foods to once per week or less. It's also important to note that some restaurants still use partially hydrogenated oils in their cooking, so it's best to ask about the ingredients before ordering.
The bottom line
Trans fats are a dangerous type of fat that should be avoided as much as possible. By focusing on whole foods and reading labels carefully, you can reduce your exposure to trans fats and lower your risk of developing heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. It's important to be an informed consumer and make smart choices when it comes to your diet.