Why be careful with trans fats?

Many people are aware of the fact that trans fats are unhealthy, but the vast majority turn a blind eye to it because they simply do not want to know. Because trans fat is contained in so many products that it would limit your food intake to a large extent if you wanted to avoid it. And many people are simply not willing to do that.

What exactly are trans fats?

Trans fats are extremely bad for your health. You will find trans fats in products such as pastries, cookies, candy, chips, frying fat and of course also in fried products. In current dietary habits it is difficult to avoid them because manufacturers are not obliged to mention trans fats on the label. That is why trans fats are among the hidden fats.

Advantages and disadvantages of trans fats.

Trans fatty acids are created during a process in which unsaturated liquid oils/fats are hydrogenated, or hardened.
The advantages:
Fats have a longer shelf life, spreadability (margarine), easier to process and also much cheaper for the producers.
The disadvantages:
Partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated (i.e. trans fats) are very unhealthy and harmful to health. Diseases and conditions that can be caused by frequent intake of trans fats are:

  • An increased risk of cardiovascular disorders (infarctions) because the ‘bad’ cholesterol level is increased and at the same time the ‘good’ cholesterol level is reduced as a result of trans fats.
  • An increased risk of cancer, including breast cancer.
  • A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that trans fats reduce fertility and deteriorate sperm quality in men.
  • The body has a lot of difficulty processing trans fats, which means that fats cannot be broken down properly, resulting in obesity.
  • Trans fats increase the risk of developing diabetes.

 

Products containing trans fats

  • Margarines
  • Cookies (filled cookies)
  • Sweets
  • Frying fat
  • Frozen products: croquettes, cheese souffl├ęs, frikadellen, fries, etc.
  • Fried products
  • Coffee milk powder
  • Pizzas
  • Ready-made meals
  • Instant mixes and sauces

The above list is actually just the tip of the iceberg. Because trans fats do not have to be listed as such, they are often listed as vegetable fat, partially hydrogenated or, hydrogenated fat or oil. So when you see this statement on a label, you can be sure that it concerns trans fats. They fall under the name hidden fats.

Trans fats are almost impossible to avoid

More and more people are becoming aware of the fact that our diet today is causing us to develop life-threatening diseases earlier and more often, and fortunately more and more people are looking for healthy food. It increasingly seems to be a ‘hype’, but one of the good kind. Let us immediately state that good and healthy food never comes in a package and has never been processed or prepared in advance. Healthy fresh food may be less quick and easy to prepare, but it does help maintain good health. All ready-made items are a lot easier but are simply unhealthy because they contain many additives, including trans fats.

Harm has been known for 20 years

20 years ago it was already known that trans fats are very harmful to health. It is true that since then the use of trans fats in products has been drastically reduced. Here in the Netherlands people do not consider it necessary to ban trans fats. However, there is advice from the Health Council to limit the intake of trans fats as much as possible by ensuring that the intake of trans fats does not exceed 1% of the food intake per day. Now it is not easy to determine this yourself as the trans fat content is not stated on packaging and if you know that a 2% higher intake already means that you have a 23% greater risk of cardiovascular disease, then you understand that it is almost impossible to stay below that one percent. Moreover, the products that contain trans fats are simply countless.

Would mentioning on products change anything?

It is different in America, Denmark and Canada where the addition of trans fats must be legally limited and stated, but is that sufficient? It is more important to inform consumers about the harmfulness of some nutrients so that it becomes clear that eating high-fat products is not only unhealthy because it makes you fat, but precisely because the specifically used fats or oils are dangerous to health.

Finally

Try to become aware of what you eat and certainly don’t eliminate all fats. Our body does need fats for certain body processes. The point is that you can tell the difference between the good and bad fats.

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