Basically, trans fats are fats formed when liquid oils are turned into solid fats through hydrogenation – e.g when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening etc. The Centre for Science in the Public Interest in the U.S (CPSI) says small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in beef and dairy products – but 80 per cent of the trans fats in the average American diet (* may be a bit less in Australia but still high) originates from partially hydrogenated vegetables oils (PHVO). These PHVOs are used to … wait for it…help food manufacturers increase the shelf lives of their products.
Michael Jacobsen, executive director of CPSI says, “Unlike fats that occur in nature, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is totally artificial and absolutely unnecessary in the food supply. And one of the all-time great quotes, he says, “Food-processing companies should worry less about the shelf life of their products and more about the shelf life of their customers. Getting rid of PHVO is probably the single easiest, fastest, cheapest way to save tens of thousands of lives each year.”
Trans fats are seen as particularly dangerous because they raise levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol which protects against heart disease. If our LDL cholesterol levels remain elevated and can’t be broken down, our arteries can become clogged, increasing the risk of heart disease and conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Source: Centre for Science in the Public Interest
Now, you’re really confused right? For all these years you thought margarine and things were the healthy option and now you don’t know who to believe. And this is just one of many cases re; foods. We’ll do a whole separate issue on how best to deal with the whole conflicting health advice thing soon, but for now just ask yourself, “is margarine a naturally occurring food?” No, as stated above it’s completely ‘artificial’, created by scientists using a fraction of the intelligence of nature’s infinite intelligence.
*That also goes for ‘heart healthy’ things fortified with Omega 3’s etc – if you want omega 3’s, get them from a ‘naturally occurring’ source. If you are worried about your heart/cholesterol focus on the big issues – reducing stress, exercise, eating less etc – rather than thinking some scientifically designed foodstuff will solve things.
So in short:
Reduce/Avoid where possible any foods that have Trans fats from PHVO’s – e.g. margarine – Go for what’s ‘natural’ – e.g butter – yes butter!!! arghhh!!! …just don’t ‘over’ eat it – that’s the real problem. Obviously, if you have a problem with cholesterol/weight etc you should be using it sparingly / having much less than somone who doesn’t – but don’t forget we all need some fat/oil etc. Moderation in all things.
And Speaking of Dangerous Foods – Are You Married or Thinking About It?
A dietitian was once addressing a large audience in Chicago. “The material we put into our stomachs is enough to have killed most of us sitting here, years ago.Red meat is awful. Soft drinks erode your stomach lining. Chinese food is loaded with MSG. None of us realizes the long-term harm caused by the germs in our drinking water. But there is one thing that is the most dangerous of all and we all have, or will, eat it. Can anyone here tell me what food it is that causes the most grief and suffering for years after eating it?”
A 75-year-old man in the front row stood up and said………………….”Wedding cake.”