Put trans fat on your naughty list

Nutrition

By pH health care professionals

Trans fat – Your taste buds may love it, but your heart and blood vessels don’t.  So what are trans fats? 

Trans fats form when ordinary vegetable oil is hardened by treatment with hydrogen at high temperatures and pressures.  They give foods a desirable taste and texture, and oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryer. As a result, trans fats are often used because they are cheap and last a long time.

Where are trans fats found?

There are two main sources of dietary trans fats. There’s naturally occurring trans fat found in small amounts in the fatty parts of meat and dairy products. And then there’s artificial trans fat from foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil, which is formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oil turning it into solid fat.

Major contributors to artificial trans fat intake include fried foods, savory snacks (like microwave popcorn), frozen pizzas, cake, cookies, pie, margarines and spreads, ready-to-use frosting, and coffee creamers. The amount of trans fat can vary within food categories.

  Food category

  Range of trans fat per serving (g)

  Margarine and spreads

  0.0-3.0 g

  Cookies

  0.0-3.5 g

  Frozen pies

  0.0-4.5 g

  Frozen pizza

  0.0-5.0 g

  Savory Snacks

  0.0-7.0 g

 

How does trans fat affect health?

Trans fats are particularly dangerous for the heart and may pose a risk for certain cancers. In November 2013, the FDA made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer generally recognized as safe in human food.

Consuming trans fat increases low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol. This risk factor contributes to the leading cause of death in the U.S, namely coronary heart disease. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, do not raise LDL cholesterol and are beneficial when consumed in moderation. Therefore, it is advisable to choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol as part of a healthful diet.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was estimated conservatively that 30,000 premature deaths/year in the United States are attributable to consumption of trans fats.

How much trans fat can be consumed daily?

On 1,800-calorie diet, you should consume no more than 18 calories per day in the form of trans fats. Because fat contains nine calories per gram, this equals two grams of trans fat per day. The American Heart Association recommends cutting back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet, and preparing lean meats and poultry without added saturated and trans fat.

Tips for lowering trans fat intake:

  •          Avoid eating commercially prepared baked foods (cookies, pies, donuts, etc.), snack foods and processed foods, including fast foods. To be on the safe side, assume that all such products contain trans fats unless they are labeled otherwise.
  •          To avoid trans fats in restaurants, avoid deep-fried foods (many restaurants still use partially hydrogenated oils in their fryers) and desserts. You may be able to help change these cooking practices by asking your server, the chef or manager if the establishment uses trans fat-free oils and foods.
  •          Choose liquid vegetable oils, or choose a soft tub margarine that contains little or no trans fat.
  •          Be proactive and test your trans fat levels.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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