“Trans Fats Dangerous for Your Heath? Deceitfully Yes!”

23 04 2010

In order to understand why Trans Fats are bad for you, first we must define what a Tran’s fat is and how to identify it in products.  A Trans Fat is simply the process of “man” adding more hydrogen atoms (hydrogenation) to a vegetable oil(s) mono-poly unsaturated fat carbon molecule chains.  The vegetable oil than becomes a “Partially” or fully hydrogenated (fat saturated) “Trans Fat.”  You will note this as listed “one or the other” product tag ingredients:  Listed Partial hydrogenated and/or Trans Fats are the same thing to varying atomic degree although not obvious to most consumers.  Through hydrogenation the oil becomes a more solid consumable fat food by adding hydrogen atoms to vegetable oils.

Another way to put this; partially hydrogenated also means vegetable oils have added hydrogen atoms to the “organic dietary” mono-to-poly unsaturated fat chains turning them into soft “trans-unsaturated fats.  “I know this sounds complicated, but I will break it down further for you to where it actually makes sense.”  When these carbon chains are fully hydrogenated they become saturated “Tran’s hard fats.”  During hydrogenation vegetable oils are hardened to achieve “firm” soft spreads with long shelf life and great for baking, e.g., margarines and shortening, “but not so great for your health.”  As noted on margarine tubs and butter cubes you “now” see the words, “Trans Fat 0 grams” and on the ingredients of both products: “Partially Hydrogenated, Soybean Oil (Also means – partially converted to Trans Fats).”  The oil has been partially hydrogenated to achieve the desired soft spread and preserves the products life. 

Unlike other dietary fats, Trans fats are not essential to the diet and don’t promote good health.  This is because, science has found, unlike natural occurring saturated fats in animal and vegetable… The equivalent partial hydration (man-made) product is more akin to “dietary saturated fats!”  The best analogy I can come up with that you could relate when looking at total fat consumption per day and impact on health:  If you use a lot of “partially hydrogenated” margarine and shortening [instead of a vegetable oil for example] for daily baking, cooking, etc., this would be the equivalent of eating the fat off of beef and pork, or eating chicken skin, or lard disregarding good healthy eating habits.  I know most are conscious of eating too much animal fats and remove it from the meat, or ladle it from broth before consumption because you can see it.  Tran’s fats can’t be seen because it’s blended into the food you consume.  Those that consume too many Trans fats through baking, processed, fast foods tend to put on weight faster than if one just consumed dietary fats through organic vegetable and animal foods.

How does a dietary saturated fat differ from a “man-made” Trans-fat?  With a dietary saturated fat, these carbon atom chains are “naturally” filled with hydrogen atoms (high concentrations in animal products: Fatty cuts of meat, poultry skin, 2% dairy products, butter, cheese; Oils: Coconut, palm and palm kernel.  Our bodies need only about 20grams of these fats daily.  Too much of any saturated fat (more than 20 grams daily) may cause bad cholesterol (LDL) to rise.  This can increase blood pressure and predispose one to certain types of cancer and many other health risks.

Although over consumption of daily fat is bad, it’s worse by consuming deceptive Trans-fats (man-made) mixed into many processed and fast foods.  It appears almost everything in our food chain manipulated by man is worse for your health than if you were to consume dietary organic foods daily; with the exception of too many dietary fats, sugar and salt.  We know too much of these dietary foods daily in the diet are not good for us either.

In the past this hydrogenation process of our cooking oils was used extensively by the food industries until it was determined Tran’s fats were worse for you in the diet than dietary saturated fats!  Early 2006, companies began removing Trans fat hydrogenation processes from foods and labeling “0” amounts of Trans Fats in their products.  Beware that products with 1-2g or less Tran’s fat per serving can report zero grams on the product label!  If you see the words “partially hydrogenated” before the oil ingredient(s), you know it has “hydrogen” Trans Fats added to the oils carbon chains.  Fat servings can add up fast “out of sight, out of mind.” Food manufacturers are now replacing hydrogenated fats with “natural saturated fats” in processed products.  They realize man-made Tran’s fats are more prone to increase the risk of heart disease and other ill-health conditions than natural occurring fats.  Be sure to check the nutrition labels to keep your unhealthy fat consumption down.  Natural Mono-Poly unsaturated oils as found in fish, vegetable oils: Olive, canola, peanut and in most nuts and nut butter does not cause cholesterol to increase and also promotes good cholesterol (HDL’s) from going down.

Reference

US Department of Health and Human Resources. FDA Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/NFLPM/ucm274590.htm

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.


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