Trans Fats In our Food Supply?
In the 1860s butter was in great demand and there wasn't enough to satisfy everybody. Emperor Louis Napoleon III offered a award for a substitute ... and so, the 1st margarine was formulated by a French chemist. It was created from clarified beef fat.
It was until 40 years later that the formula of hydrogenation was devised and the match to deadly trans fats began. Butter rationing during 1st and 2nd world war and the lower cost of margarine made more and more people to switch to this butter substitute made from cheesy vegetable fats.
When vegetable oils are hydrogenated their molecules are chemically re-arranged. This produces a fat known as trans fat that becomes semi-hard at room temperature. Basically, trans fats mimics the saturated fats that our taste buds loves. We are naturally drawn to the taste and the consistency.
The semi-solid trans fats are great for baking and not expensive like butter or lard. This is a big asset for food processors which is the reason why trans fats are found in most baked foods as well as fried foods. While this cheap alternative to butter is a boon for the food makers it is a dangerous bust for consumers. In the US alone, an estimated 100,000 people die prematurely every year due to the use of trans fats.
So What's so Bad About Trans Fats?
Trans fats have a very bad effect on your cholesterol levels. They drive up your levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol at the same time lowering your levels of heart-protective HDL cholesterol. Trans fats' overall effect on your cholesterol levels is twice as bad as the effect of saturated fats Recently, trans fats have also come under fire for damaging the lining of your arteries. It is this damage that leads to hardening of the arteries and higher blood pressure. The linings of your arteries play a very important role in controlling blood pressure. When these vital linings become damaged, their function is impaired resulting in high blood pressure.
How Can You Avoid Trans Fats?
Although trans fats were first used in margarine most margarines have removed this deadly fat. But, they are still found in many baked foods and fried foods. In fact, because of their low cost and convenience trans fats keep foods from spoiling hydrogenated oils are being used even more.
Keep clear of donuts, French fries, pastries, fast foods even the seemingly healthy granola bar often contains this dangerous fat. Check labels carefully avoid any food that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Finally, a Little Help from the FDA
Fortunately, it is starting to get easier to find these dangerous trans fats and avoid them. As of January 2006, the FDA is requiring food makers to list the trans fat content on the Nutrition Facts label found on all products.
Even a small amount of trans fats in your diet is bad for your heart health. Switch over to healthier fats today. Not all fats are bad for you. In fact, some fats will even help you lower your blood pressure. Olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish will give your body a good dose of healthy fats.