The truth about trans fats and the damage they cause.
Low fat. High fat. Trans fat. Polyunsaturated fat. All the talk about fat can make your head swim! Trans fats are the fats that can do a number on your health, so let’s take a quick look at what these fats are, where they appear and how you can reduce or eliminate your intake.
“Trans Fat” Defined
Trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. “Partially hydrogenated oils” are the primary dietary source of trans fats in processed food – those foods that usually come in a box or jar and are high in added sugars, low in fiber and whole grains, and processed with sodium.
Trans fats raise your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your “good” cholesterol levels. What’s more, eating trans fats increases your risk of having a stroke and of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Where Trans Fats are Found
If you eat fried foods, baked goods, frozen pizza, crackers, stick margarine and other spreads (the list goes on and on), you’re ingesting trans fats. Look at the product’s Nutrition Facts panel to determine just how much. Products can be labeled “0 grams trans fats” if they contain 0 grams to less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Many of us, knowingly or unknowingly, eat more than one serving of crackers, for example. That’s why it’s essential to take serving size into consideration.
The American Heart Association recommends that less than 1 percent of our daily calories come from trans fat. If you’re eating a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s 2 grams of trans fat per day.
Trans fats can also be spotted by reading a product’s ingredients list, which is different from the nutrition label. Ingredient information is listed from greatest to smallest amount, so if partially hydrogenated oils are listed in the first few ingredients, choose another product.
You may be wondering If trans fats are so bad, why are they in so many foods? Three reasons: they’re easy to use, cheap to produce and last a long time. Fast-food restaurants, for example, use oils with trans fats because the oil can be used over and over again in commercial fryers. Appealing, right?
How to Reduce Trans Fat Consumption
- Choose naturally occurring, unhydrogenated vegetable oils most often, such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive.
- Use soft margarine as a substitute for butter, and choose soft margarines (liquid or tub varieties) over harder stick forms. Look for “0 g trans fat” on the Nutrition Facts label and no hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list.
- Cook, bake and grill at home so you can control – and know – what’s in your food.
- Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts.
- Limit your consumption of red meat and sugary foods and beverages.
- Check food labels. Even foods listed as “low fat” may contain trans fats.
The American Heart Association has even more ideas on how to lower your intake of trans fats and stay healthy. And speaking of health, your local PDCM agent [add appropriate link] can provide you with a free health insurance quote. Contact PDCM today!When Trans Fats Go Your Health Will Glow by PDCM Insurance