Dangers of Trans-Fat
Health experts, the American Heart Association and virtually every
health authority wants us to cut down on trans fatty acids. The
creation of trans fat occurs when liquid oils solidify by partial
hydrogenation, a process that stretches food shelf life and changes
"safe" unsaturated fat into dangerous fat. Trans fats are concentrated
in margarine, solid vegetable shortening, doughnuts, crackers,
cookies, chips, cakes, pies, some breads and foods fried in
hydrogenated fat (chicken, fish, potatoes). Experts blame trans fats
for at least 30,000 premature deaths a year. Experts now say trans
fats are "the biggest food-processing disaster in U.S. history
Several decades of research show consumption of trans fatty acids
promotes heart disease, cancer, diabetes, immune dysfunction, and
obesity and reproductive problems. If Americans can detect the danger
in food labels, they would cut back on trans fats, says the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration. The FDA wants new food labels to reveal trans
fats, contending such labels would save lives by forcing food
manufacturers to eliminate trans fats.
Just removing trans fatty acids from all margarine's (70% now are high
in trans fats) would prevent 6,300 heart attacks a year. In addition,
eliminating trans fats in just 3% of breads and cakes and 15% of
cookies and crackers would save up to $59-billion in health care costs
in the next 20 years, predicts the FDA.
Trans fats increase bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin
levels and reduce beneficial HDL cholesterol, promoting heart attacks.
The special villain is margarine. It accounts for about 20 to 25% of
all trans fat consumed. In fact, trans-fat rich margarine is twice as
bad as butter. Butter's saturated fat raises bad LDL, but margarine's
trans fat boost LDL and depresses good HDL cholesterol, doubling the
damage. Substituting very low trans fat margarine for butter reduces
bad LDL cholesterol 11%, but is not as effective for obese people. In
diabetics, trans fats appear to reduce the ability of the body to
handle blood sugar by lowering responses to the hormone insulin, this
is particularly dangerous to diabetics.
The best diet strategy is not to lower total fat, but to severely
restrict saturated fats (animal fats from meat and dairy) and to get
near zero intake of trans fats. Some Americans eat 30 to 40 grams of
trans fat daily.
The secret to avoiding trans fat: Use olive oil or
grapeseed oil for all cooking.
A good source of expeller pressed grapeseed oil is
Use trans fat-free margarine - soft tub or liquid margarine
hard stick margarine. Generally, the softer the better and liquid is
better yet. A tablespoon of stick margarine has about 1.9 grams of
trans fat; a tablespoon of regular tub margarine, 0.8 grams. Check the
label for trans-free brands. All Promise margarine is trans fat-free
as are Fleishmann's in tubs. Also trans fat-free
Country Crock products
By government standards, trans-fat means
less than 0.5 grams per serving.
When eating out, avoid deep fried foods. A batter-dipped whole fried
onion - an appetizer popular at steak houses - has 18 grams of trans
fats, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Other trans fat horrors: cheese fries, onion rings, fried seafood and
fried chicken and fish.
Restrict foods made with "partially hydrogenated" oils as noted on
labels. The higher those words appear in the ingredient list, the more
trans fat. Half the fat of a cookie may be trans fat. A doughnut
contains four to nine grams of trans fat. If a label does not list
trans fat, add up what is listed (saturated, monounsaturated,
polyunsaturated) and subtract from the total fat grams. The difference
is trans fat. Also, be sure your food is low in saturated fat, a
partner that brings on heart disease.