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Trans Fats, Things You Need to Know

Fat isn't always bad for you, in fact, our body needs fat for crucial functions as fats are responsible for protecting vital organs, storing energy and keeping us warm.

By now you should be vaguely aware of good fats and bad fats. Good fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, have a number of benefits including protecting the heart, keeping your core temperature stable and absorbing vital nutrients for the body. They can be utilised to burn excessive fat in the body as well. For instance, the keto diet, which primarily consists of 80 percent fat, works to ensure that the body's fat reserve is utilised for energy instead of glucose. The diet requires you to limit your carbohydrate intake, reducing it to 5 to 10 percent. This puts the body into a ketosis state, inevitably increasing the metabolic rate and aiding in fat burn without compromising muscle mass in the body. Good fats also aid in blood clotting, muscle movement and sustaining the body’s long-term health.

 

Sources and Effects

Unlike good fats, bad fats work the opposite way by increasing the risk of heart-related disease and conditions. The worst if these bad fats are trans fats. Trans fat has gotten a bad rep for years now, and it's no surprise why.

There are two types of trans fats in foods, one is naturally-occurring and the other is artificial. Natural sources of trans fats can be found in the gut of some animals and foods, such as milk and meat products, have a small chance of containing trans fats. Whereas artificial trans fats have nefarious origins. They are healthy oils that were converted into solids so as to prevent rancidity. This industrial process to create trans fats is called hydrogenation. The primary source of trans fats can be found in processed foods. Next time you are picking up something processed in one way or another, check the label for “partially hydrogenated oils”.

Trans fats are notorious for being unsafe for consumption and for having zero nutritional value and benefits for the body. The consumption of trans fats causes the LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol, in our blood to increase while reducing HDL cholesterol in the body. Trans fats are responsible for causing inflammation and are also the main culprits for causing a plethora of health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic conditions. The risk of getting type 2 diabetes is also higher with increased intakes of trans fats as they play a large role in resisting insulin, the hormone that regulates your blood sugar level, in the body.

 

Why?

With so many risks, why do companies and franchises still use trans fats in their foods? The answer is simple, profit. Trans fats are essentially goldmines that not only make food more flavourful, they are are also inexpensive, easy to use and have a prolonged shelf life. This is one of the main reasons why you should avoid or limit fast-food in your diet. Fast-food franchises essentially use trans fats to deep fry fries and patties in commercial fryers. Artificial trans fats are also present in baked goods including cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, margarines and other spreads.

 

Ways to Limit Trans Fat

The best way to limit your intake of trans fats would be to adopt a diet that mainly consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are also great substitutes for trans fats.   

Drink less sugary beverages and consume less red meat. Increase the use of naturally occurring non-hydrogenated vegetable oils in your cooking; some of these cooking oils are canola, safflower, sunflower, and olive oil. Let’s face it, most of the food we eat or prepare is processed to some degree, if you do find yourself reaching for something processed, keep an eye out for foods made with non-hydrogenated vegetable oils as opposed to vegetable oils or saturated fat that is partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils. Love spreads? Stick to soft margarines, liquid or tub varieties, instead of harder stick forms of spreads or margarines.

 

Watch What You Eat

As the saying goes, you are what you eat; your diet will not only affect the health of your body, but also how you feel and look. Pay attention to your diet and you will start noticing how much of what you eat is processed and unhealthy for the body. Ultimately, the practice of watching what you eat will give you a new perspective, encouraging you to adopt a new approach to food and your diet. Making changes to your diet or adhering to a diet isn’t a difficult thing to do. Start small, eliminate foods and drinks with high amounts of sugar, salt and fat. Steer clear of fried foods, sugary beverages and switch to foods prepared using healthy cooking methods, i.e grilled, steamed etc, and you will notice changes in your energy level, health and appearance.

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