Tips for Health

What are Trans Fats?

By on May 19, 2012 in Dieting, Health with 0 Comments

What are trans fats?

Trans fats are a type of fatty acid found in foods we eat. Fatty acids are a source of energy for your body. Fatty acids derived from oils of vegetable and fruits, seeds, nuts, animal fats and fish oils. Not all fatty acids are harmful. For example, moderate amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in your diet can benefit your health. However, trans fats are an example of a fatty acid is bad for you. Trans fats are often used in processed foods and commercial baked goods because they are cheap and because the products have a long shelf life.

Why are trans fats bad for our health?

Trans fats can raise levels of “bad” cholesterol (called low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol) in your body. They also decrease the levels of “good” cholesterol (called high density lipoprotein, or HDL). Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease.

What types of foods contain trans fat?

Natural foods such as milk, butter and meat, contain small amounts of trans fats. But this type of fat does not seem as harmful to health as trans fat found in commercial baked goods, fried foods and snacks. Examples of foods often contain trans fats include the following:

  • Margarine
  • Shortening Matter
  • Crackers
  • Sweet biscuits
  • Fried snacks
  • Salsa (dressing) salad

Many foods sold at fast food restaurants also have high levels of trans fats.

How I can avoid trans fats?

Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet instead of processed and packaged foods. Fruits and vegetables naturally contain no trans fats.

You should also carefully read food labels and look at the content of trans fats. Food labels should be noted trans fat, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Trans fats appear listed in the ingredients list as “hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.”

When reading a nutrition label, remember that companies are allowed to list “0 grams trans fat” if the food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. This means your food may contain trans fat even if the nutrition label says “0 grams trans fat per serving.” Many foods now have written on the label “free of trans fats.”

Some fast food restaurants no longer use trans fats, but it is important that you ask before ordering.

Strive to eat foods with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats instead of foods high in trans fat. Monounsaturated fats found in vegetable oils such as olive, canola, peanut, sunflower and sesame. Also found in foods such as avocados, peanut butter and many nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils such as soybean oil (soy), corn oil and safflower oil. They are also found in fatty fish such as salmon, barracuda, herring and trout.

How much trans fat is acceptable?

Ideally, you should get 0 grams of trans fat per day. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 1% of your total daily calories from trans fat. If you take about a total of 2,000 calories per day should consume less than two (2) grams of trans fat per day.

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