The dangers of trans fat foods were thrust back into the news with the announcement from the Food and Drug Administration that it would ban the use of this group of cardiovascular system-damaging products. The first shot across the bow came with an FDA ban on the use of hydrogenated oils. These oils are the primary dietary source in foods high in trans fat.
So what are these mysterious additives?
Trans fats are man-made globs that help extend the shelf life and add to the texture of certain foods and ingredients. Hydrogen is added to liquid oil to create this semi-solid material. Think of Crisco as you picture the idea. These artificial "trans fatty acids" have been around for over a century. Proctor and Gamble was a pioneer in this process.
In the decade of the 80's, well meaning, although not fully informed, consumer groups railed against the saturated fat used in deep fried restaurant food. They cited possible cardiovascular health concerns from this saturated fat. Subsequent, more accurate research indicated this new processed trans fat was actually more of a heart health risk. The studies showed trans fat actually raised LDL cholesterol counts and lowered the "good" HDL counts.
The use of trans fats have gone down in regard to processed foods in the last ten years due in part to government mandate that trans fat must be listed in the ingredient label. The catch is that if the level of this artificial danger item is less than one half gram, the manufacturer can promote "zero trans fat" on the label. There isn't as much slow death poison, but there is still some there.
Retail use is still prevalent in items like frozen pizza, microwave popcorn, margarine, packaged desserts and baked goods. How much of this stuff is sold everyday? So you see the first part of the problem.
But here is the more disguised threat from trans fats. The foods you eat in restaurants can be packed with this product. Restaurants don't list specific ingredients in their menu items every time. They can pick up cheap ingredients and create a taste and smell cocktail to entice repeat buyers who are completely unaware of what is actually being consumed.
We learned from the three part series on causes of overeating that this well conceived and scientific, subliminal advertising goes on every day. Dr. David Kessler's book, "The End Of Overeating" was featured in that three part series.
Why is trans fat bad? We'll go directly to Dr. Chauncey Crandall, author of "Fix It." He is a very prominent cardiologist and an expert in the prevention and reversal of heart disease. Dr. Crandall is the Director of Preventive Medicine at the world renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic.
He says," Artificial trans fats are a huge factor in promoting inflammation, raising cholesterol, and ultimately causing coronary heart disease," He further explains, "Trans fats cause inflammation, which is increasingly seen as the cause to many other serious health problems in our country, including obesity, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis,"
How can you combat the danger from trans fat foods? Dr. Crandall offers these suggestions.
Drink several glasses of water per day. This will help to flush out trans fat foods.
Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables. They will help your body fight the dangers from trans fat foods.
Be diligent in reading the ingredient labels. Keep in mind however, the paragraph above about calling products "trans fat free."
At all times avoid products labeled with "partially hydrogenated oils", which are the primary sources of trans fat foods.
Margarine contains trans fat. Use butter instead. Butter contains saturated fat, which is a natural product, not processed. That doesn't mean to load up on butter either. Just that butter is far safer than margarine.
Be careful of chain style restaurants for the reasons we listed above. You may be getting a larger dose of hydrogenated oil.
Just below is a link containing some fast food time bombs that still contain trans fats. It's one of those "list type" pages that offer a button to click through the images. My apologies in advance for the clutter of ads surrounding what is actually good information.
In this link you'll undoubtedly recognize some of these highly publicized heart-busting food choices. Maybe you've eaten one yourself?
Trans fat foods may be on the way out, but it will take years for strict enforcement to take hold. You already have enough information to make that choice on your own. Protect your own heart and cardiovascular system by taking charge of what you eat. There is no mystery. You can avoid heart disease by being your own best advocate.