What Are Trans-Fats and Are They Safe?

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Trans-fats are non-naturally occurring (man-made) fats produced through the process of hydrogenating vegetable fats. Hydrogenation is pretty much what it sounds like, adding hydrogen to the oil through and industrial process, which alters the chemical properties of the vegetable fats.

Are Trans-Fats Dangerous?

Its always hard to say how “dangerous” trans-fats are because they have not been around long enough for us to see their full long-term impact, but we know this: They are definitely not healthy!

What Kinds of Health Risks do Trans-fats Pose?

  • 1. Increased Risk of Heart Disease.
  • 2. Higher “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower “good” cholesterol (HDL). This leads to high cholesterol and even greater heart attack risk.
  • 3. Increased Inflammation.
  • 4. Increased Insulin Resistance. Insulin resistance is the cause of all type 2 (adult onset) diabetes.

How Can We Avoid Trans-fats? Read the label.

Avoid “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” foods. Do not eat margarine unless it says “no trans-fats” or has less than 2 grams of saturated fats, and only buy liquid or tub margarine since margarine can only become solid (stick) margarine through hydrogenation. Liquid vegetable oil should be the first ingredient, not any kind of hydrogenated oil on your margarine. Try to avoid deep fried foods (the vegetable shortening is full of trans-fats), as well as cakes, cookies, chips, doughnuts and pastries made in factories, these are often produced with trans-fats to save money. Beware of milk, dairy and imitation cheese products, which can often have added trans-fats.

Trans-fats are not always listed on nutrition labels.

Companies do not have to list the trans-fats if the level is below a certain amount, so make sure to scan the ingredients for “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated oils”, these always mean the product has trans-fats.

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