The Evils of TRANS FAT!
In high school, I was known as the girl who deplored trans fat. I told anyone and everyone who would listen about the dangers of hydrogenated oils - that your body can’t process them, and thus they cause blockages and ultimately lead to heart disease (which happens to be the #1 killer in America). As valedictorian, I gave a speech at graduation where I ended with the following piece of advice: “Don’t eat trans fat. It clogs your arteries and causes heart disease.”
Where this zealous passion about trans fat and eating healthy came from, I’m not totally sure. Yes, my family is a group of health nuts, but I think the real reason I became so fired up is I was angry that the food industry can get away with hiding all kinds of junk in our food. Not only are food companies knowingly putting poison into the food they sell, but regulations allow products to carry completely false labels. For example, products can boast “0% trans fat”, when in actuality 0% just means less than 0.5 grams per serving. And let’s be honest, the serving sizes on food labels are almost always smaller than what the average person consumes. Shrinking portion size is just another way to inflate nutrition facts and make a product seem healthier - Really, five cookies have half the fat of ten cookies???
You might be wondering… What is trans fat really? While there is some naturally occurring trans fat in animal products like meat and butter, these are not the concern. The type of trans fat that is most lethal is the kind that is industrially processed. Oils are hydrogenated to make them more solid - increasing the shelf life of products, making them more efficient for frying, and adding flavor and texture to processed foods at a low cost. Fried foods at restaurants and processed items like cookies, cake, doughnuts, crackers, bread, candy, frozen pizza, and margarine are the most common sources of artificial trans fat.
Like I mentioned before, trans fat causes heart disease. It also lowers good (HDL) cholesterol levels and raises bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. If trans fat prevents natural processes from breaking down food on the shelf, how can you expect your body to metabolize food containing hydrogenated oils? Instead of being properly digested, trans fat will cause artery rigidity and clogging, later contribute to type 2 diabetes.
Artificial trans fat is NOT a part of a healthy diet, in any way, shape, or form. The American Heart Association says to “limit” trans fat, but the truth is it should be eliminated altogether (the artificial kind that is). Check nutrition labels for fully and partially hydrogenated oils, and avoid them like the plague!
Here are a few common foods containing trans fat:
- Jif Peanut Butter
- Nondairy coffee creamer like Coffeemate
- Cake mixes like Betty Crocker
- Microwaveable popcorn like Pop-Secret
- Store-bought pie crust like Pillsbury
- Tortillas at restaurants such as Chipotle
- Snickers bars: This is a great example because the nutrition label says there is 0g of trans fat, but when you check the ingredient list you will still see “partially hydrogenated soybean oil”. Makes no sense!
I encourage you to scan your nutrition labels for hydrogenated oils at all times, and don’t eat any of the above foods - your health and longevity is at risk.
If you want to learn more about my eating smart philosophy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out more nutrition blog posts here.
Sources: http://www.bantransfats.com/abouttransfat.html http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-j-schultz/trans-fats_b_6024508.html