You may well have heard the term trans fats and also how food manufacturers are actively removing them from their products. However, why are trans fats are so bad for you and how do they affect your body.
Trans fat comes from a process called hydrogenation. This is a process that adds hydrogen to the vegetable oil in your foods. Trans fat increases the shelf life of food and was once believed to be healthy, because trans fat came primarily from plant oils. But new studies have shown that the opposite is true. Trans fats have a negative effect on your cholesterol levels.
Where are Trans Fats Found
Trans fats are found in cookies, crackers, margarines, fried foods and snack foods such as cakes and doughnuts. Saturated fats and total cholesterol has been required by the FDA to be listed on food labels since 1993. But the amount of trans fats were never required to be listed. However, from January 2006, food manufacturer's are now obliged by law to list the amount of trans fats in their foods.
But why should you be concerned with trans fats?
Trans Fats Effect on Cholesterol
The problem with trans fats is that they have been shown to have an unhealthy effect on your cholesterol levels. Trans fats will raise your LDL, which is your low density lipoprotein and lower your HDL, which is the high density lipoprotein. A high LDL is what puts you at risk for heart disease by increasing the amount of plaque that builds up in your arteries. This accumulation of plaque will decrease the blood flow through the arteries. This plaque can also rupture causing a blood clot to form and blocking a major artery. If blood flow to the heart is interrupted, a heart attack can occur. If blood flow to the brain is stopped, a stroke will occur.
Trans fats will lower your HDL levels. The function of the HDL is to take the excess cholesterol in your body and transport it back to liver to be removed from the body. When the HDL level is lower, the excess cholesterol is not being removed as it should and you are at a higher risk for heat disease and stroke.
As you can see, it is important to decrease your consumption of trans fat. Read the labels on all foods that you buy. Note the amount of trans fat and cholesterol in these foods and do a little comparison shopping. Try to find foods that are lower in cholesterol and do not contain trans fat.
Trans fats are being removed from a lot of the foods that we buy today. Restaurants are also trying to reduce the amount of trans fats that they use. Keep this in mind when looking for a place to dine out. Ask the manager if the food is trans fat free. Choose your food carefully and you will be much healthier because of it.