They have no nutritional value, so what are they doing in your food?
Trans fats are added into baked and fried foods to give them a longer shelf life, but research has shown the additive raises your risk of heart disease.
Some fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) are an important part of a healthy diet, but consuming saturated and trans fats can have a negative impact on your heart because they can create blockages, which decrease the flow of blood to the important organ and increase your risk of heart attack.
Trans fats occur naturally in certain foods, such as dairy products and meat and are formed during the refining of vegetable oils (canola and soybean).
They’re also produced when manufacturers use a process called partial hydrogenation – that’s when liquid oil is turned into a semi-solid, like margarine or shortening.
Trans fats keep your favourite cakes, cookies and potato chips on the store shelves longer and they also create textures and flavours that make those indulgent treats so tempting.
Here’s a list of some of the negative health effects attributed to trans fats:
Why Are Trans Fats Bad For Me?
Trans fats deliver a double-whammy when it comes to your health. They not only increase your bad cholesterol (L.D.L.), but they also reduce the good cholesterol (H.D.L.).
L.D.L. is a contributing factor to heart disease, while H.D.L. helps to fight it.
Which Foods Contain Trans Fats?
For a sample list, click here.
How Do I Minimize My Risk Of Health Problems Related To Trans Fats?
- Avoid commercially fried foods and high-fat bakery products unless they are identified as being reduced in or free of trans fat.
- Follow the suggestions in Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating. The Guide advises you to choose lower fat dairy products, leaner meats and foods prepared with little or no fat.
- Read the labels on pre-packaged food products. Since December 2005, it has been mandatory for most foods to list on the “Nutrition Facts” table the amount of trans fat in the product. Also, look for the phrase “partially hydrogenated oil.” If you see this phrase in the list of ingredients on the label, it means the product contains trans fat.
- Choose soft margarines that are labelled as being free of trans fat or made with non-hydrogenated fat.
- Fry foods less often. When you do fry foods, use healthier oils that contain a higher proportion of monounsaturated fats. Do not re-use the oils more than two or three times.
- When you eat out, ask about the trans fat content of foods on the menu.
For more information on trans fats, click here.