You may have heard of the dangers of trans fats. These fats are unhealthy nutritionally. However, you may not know the reason for this. Although in recent years, with the increase of public awareness and the strengthening of laws restricting the consumption of trans fats, its consumption has decreased dramatically, the consumption of trans fats is still a serious public health concern. In this article, we will learn more about the reason for this.
What is trans fat?
Trans fats or trans fatty acids are a form of unsaturated fats. These fats come in both synthetic and natural forms. The natural form of trans fats is found in the meat and dairy products of ruminants such as cattle, sheep and goats. These fats are formed naturally when the bacteria in the stomach of these ruminants digest the grass. Trans fat usually makes up 2 to 6 percent of total dairy fat and 3 to 9 percent of fat in beef and mutton slices.
The best type of natural trans fats is conjugated linoleic acid, which is found in dairy fats. This type of trans fat is probably good for your health. Oral supplements of this fat are also available in the market. On the other hand, the consumption of synthetic trans fats, also known as trans-industrial fats or hydrogenated fats, is dangerous to health. These fats are formed when vegetable oils are chemically modified to be solid at room temperature. This will increase the shelf life of these fats.
The relationship between trans fat and health
1. Trans fat and heart
Synthetic trans fats may increase the risk of heart disease. In a number of clinical trials, the consumption of trans fats instead of other types of fats or carbohydrates significantly increased bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and decreased good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Most fats, on the other hand, increase good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.
Replacing trans fats with other fats can dramatically increase total cholesterol and the ratio of bad cholesterol to good cholesterol and have a negative impact on health. These two indicators They are an important risk factor for heart disease. Many observational studies have shown the link between trans fats and an increased risk of heart disease.
۲. Trans fats and insulin sensitivity and diabetes
The link between consuming trans fats and the risk of developing diabetes is not yet fully understood. A large study of more than 80,000 women found that people who consumed the most trans fats were 40 percent more likely to develop diabetes. However, two observational studies did not show any association between the consumption of trans fats and the incidence of diabetes. Some controlled studies have examined the effect of trans fats on some risk factors for diabetes, such as insulin resistance; But contradictory results were obtained.
Large animal studies have shown that consuming trans fats may affect glucose and insulin function. A six-year study of monkeys found that a diet high in trans fats (equivalent to 8% of calories consumed) increased insulin resistance, increased visceral fat, and increased fructosamine. Fructosamine is one of the indicators of high blood sugar.
3. Trans fats and inflammation
Excessive inflammation seems to be one of the main causes of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and arthritis. Two studies have shown that consuming trans fats may increase inflammatory markers. However, another study showed that replacing butter with margarine (vegetable butter) does not make any difference in inflammatory markers. According to observational studies, the consumption of trans fats is associated with an increase in inflammatory markers (especially in people with excess fat).
4. Trans fats, blood vessels and cancer
Trans fats may damage the endothelial layer of blood vessels. In a four-week study in which trans fats replaced saturated fats, good cholesterol was reduced by 21 percent and vasodilation by 29 percent, which is not a good thing. In another study, indices of endogenous layer disorder increased with a diet high in trans fats.
Quantitative research has examined the effect of trans fats on cancer. A large study found that pre-menopausal trans fat consumption was associated with an increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. However, according to the results of two studies, the link between cancer and trans fat is very weak.
What foods have trans fats?
1. Fried foods
Fried foods such as French fries may contain trans fats, depending on the oil in which they are fried. If you can not completely eliminate these foods from your diet, reduce their consumption.
۲. Margarine (vegetable butter)
Margarine is sometimes marketed as a healthier alternative to animal butter. However, some types of margarine have 2 grams of trans fat per tablespoon.
3. Meat and dairy
Trans fats are found naturally in dairy and meat products. Consumption of natural trans fats in moderation does not seem to be harmful to health. However, it is best to include lean meats and low-fat dairy in your diet.
Identify alternatives to trans fats
1. Natural oils
Instead of consuming foods made from synthetic oils, it is better to use natural oils such as olive oil, corn oil and canola oil to reduce the consumption of trans fats.
۲. Vegetarian alternatives to meat
Eating a few plant-based meals a week reduces the intake of trans fats. These days, meat substitutes reduce fat intake. Also, some companies are looking to produce meat substitutes with the same taste but plant-based.
3. Foods containing monounsaturated fatty acids And omega-3 fatty acids
It is best not to replace trans fats with saturated fatty acids. These fats may not be as bad as trans fats, but you should still consume them in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends that saturated fats should not exceed 6% of your daily caloric intake.
It is best to have most of your daily fat intake from unsaturated sources that help lower bad cholesterol. These fats are mainly found in olive and peanut oil. Other healthy sources of fat include omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish and nuts.
Worry about trans fats in your modern diet!
Hydrogenated vegetable oils are one of the largest sources of trans fats in the modern diet because they are cheap for companies and have a long shelf life. While trans fats can be found in many processed foods today, governments have recently taken steps to limit the consumption of trans fats.
In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration banned the use of hydrogenated oils in many processed foods. BHowever, the ban has not been fully implemented, and many processed foods still contain trans fats. Some other countries have taken similar steps to reduce their consumption of trans fats.
How to avoid trans fats?
حGetting rid of trans fats from your diet can be difficult. In the United States, companies can label products that have less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving as trans fat free. Clearly there are drawbacks to this law; For example, consuming multiple cookies causes a person to receive more than the permitted amount of trans fat.
To avoid trans fats, it is important to read product labels carefully and avoid foods that contain hydrogenated oils. Also, reading product labels may sometimes not be enough; For example, some processed foods, such as regular vegetable oils, may contain trans fats, but their labels or ingredients do not contain trans fats.
A study in the United States on canola oil and commercial soybean oil showed that 0.56 to 4.2 percent of the fats in these products are trans fats; Without saying anything about their packaging.
Although the natural trans fats in products made from ruminants in moderate amounts do not pose a health risk, most of the trans fats in the Western diet are harmful to health. Consumption of synthetic trans fats is strongly associated with health problems such as heart disease.
Consumption of synthetic trans fats may be associated with long-term inflammation, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes (especially for obese and overweight people). Although the amount of trans fats in the modern diet has decreased, the average consumption of trans fats in many countries is still a concern.
It is best to use natural fats, whole and unprocessed foods, and lean meats and dairy to reduce your intake of trans fats.