When talking about our diet and food intake fat is often seen as the bad guy, but it is important to remember that fat is an essential part of our diet and is vital for the body to function properly. Fats are simply organic compounds that are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. They are also known as lipids. The three main types of fats are saturated fats, unsaturated fats and, the black sheep of the three, transaturated (trans) fat.
Trans fats are artificially created fats that are produced from polyunsaturated fats through a process called hydrogenation (the addition of hydrogen atoms) This turns a liquid polyunsaturated fat into a solid saturated fat.
Trans fat or processed fats were first made as a result of the food industry wanting to find a way of converting liquid oils into solid fats which are more useable in food production. They are inexpensive to produce and last a lot longer than other fats. Trans fats can also give food a desirable taste and texture.
Many fast food restaurants use trans fats to fry foods because they can be used over and over again in commercial fryers and can withstand repeated heating without breaking down.
Trans fats are often found in the following foods:
It has become apparent that trans fats are more unhealthy than saturated fats and some manufacturers are now proactively avoiding using trans fats in their products.
Some supermarkets have removed trans fats from all their ready meals and several large chain restaurants have made attempts to seriously reduce levels of trans fat in heir products.
Trans fats raise the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL or low density lipoprotein) in the body. This causes a build up in the walls of your arteries which makes them hard and narrow. Trans fat can also lower the good cholesterol levels (HDL or high density lipoprotein).
Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and strokes and is also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Trans fat may also increase inflammation which is the body’s response to injury.
Inflammation plays a key role in the formation of fatty blockages in heart blood vessels. Trans fat has been shown to damage the cells lining blood vessels which leads to inflammation. So in future check food labels for trans fats then do your heart a favour and avoid them !!!!