Some samples of trans fats foods on table

Having a healthy diet isn’t just about the six classes of food. Importantly, understanding what is in your food can be more important than how it tastes. Therefore, this article will help you in understanding trans fat foods in your daily diet.

While the body needs carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for optimal performance and recovery, some fats can be more detrimental to performance and can even lead to more chronic health issues in the future. Definitively, trans fats are one of these fats.

Accordingly, trans fats are unsaturated fats produced from vegetable oils. They are commonly used in the preparation of margarine and commercially baked or fried foods. Also, Trans fats are known as ‘partially hydrogenated oils/fats’ or ‘shortening’.

These fats are incredibly unhealthy, but it is important to know why they are unhealthy and how to avoid them. 

By understanding why trans fats are unhealthy and what kinds of food they are present in, you can make better food choices in the future to maintain a healthy and safe lifestyle.

Two types of Trans Fat Foods

There are two forms of trans fat:

  • Naturally occurring trans fat; and
  • Artificial trans fats. 

Artificial trans fats are man-made fats produced through a chemical process called hydrogenation. You probably must have heard or seen the name on the side of potato chip bags, cracker boxes, or butter containers.

While, naturally occurring trans fats can be found in many animal products, including milk and meat. You should know that while natural trans fats do not cause harm when ingested, artificial trans fats can cause serious health issues.

Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified eliminating industrially-produced trans fats from the global food supply by 2023. It is one of the priority targets of the WHO strategic plan,  (draft 13th General Programme of Work (GPW13) which will guide the work of WHO in 2019 – 2023). 

Also, the WHO reported an estimation of around 500,000 deaths per year as a result of consumption of industrially-produced trans fats.

While Fifteen countries account for approximately two-thirds of the worldwide deaths linked to trans fat intake. Here are these countries:

  • Canada,
  • Latvia,
  • Slovenia,
  • The United States,
  • Azerbaijan,
  • Bangladesh,
  • Bhutan,
  • Ecuador,
  • Egypt,
  • India,
  • Iran,
  • Mexico,
  • Nepal,
  • Pakistan, and
  • The Republic of Korea. 

Dangers of Trans Fats

Trans fats foods raise cholesterol and therefore increase the chances of
developing the following health conditions:

  • Heart disease,
  • Strokes,
  • Liver dysfunction,
  • Type 2 diabetes, and
  • Alzheimer.

Additionally, trans fats have a direct relation with infertility in women. Still, trans fatty acids not only raise the bad LDL cholesterol, they also reduce the healthy HDL cholesterol.

There is a possible link between trans fats and a reduction in insulin sensitivity according to researches. Also, it is widely agreed that trans fats are significantly more damaging than saturated fats (animal fats).

Foods that Contains Trans Fat

 Though food companies are drastically reducing the amounts of trans fats in their foods, there are still several foods that still contain artificial trans fats.

These foods include:

  • Margarine,
  • Vegetable oils,
  • Cakes,
  • Popcorn,
  • Doughnuts,
  • Frozen Pizza,
  • Pastries,
  • Ice cream, and
  • Breakfast food.

The biggest takeaway from learning about trans fats is the importance of knowing what is in the food you are eating. By looking more closely at the food labels of the items you plan to buy at the grocery store, you can allow yourself to make a more educated decision that can lead to a healthier way of living.

While avoiding trans-fat foods altogether may be difficult, consuming them in moderation is not necessarily the problem. However, the continued consumption of these trans fats is the common link to high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke. 

WHO Recommendation

To individuals

Advisably, WHO recommends that trans fat intake be limited to less than 1% of total energy intake. This translates to less than 2.2 g/day with a 2,000-calorie diet.

To Countries

To achieve a world free of industrially produced trans fats by 2023, WHO has also recommended that countries:

  • Develop and implement best-practice policies to set mandatory limits for industrially produced trans fats to 2% of oils and fats in all foods or to ban partially hydrogenated oils (PHO);
  • Invest in monitoring mechanisms, e.g. lab capacity to measure and monitor trans fats in foods; and
  • Advocate for regional or sub-regional regulations to expand the benefits of trans fat policies.

Medically, making the conscious decision to limit your trans fat consumption can gradually reduce these risks and improve your quality of life. And, heeding to this advice is tantamount to healthy living. Hopefully, the question posed to you earlier has been answered.

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