When you get home from your weekly shop at a major supermarket you may be surprised to find many of your items filled with a scary little fat that is known to contribute towards coronary heart disease. The ingredient to look for on your shopping labels is ‘hydrogenated vegetable oil’ or ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’, as these foods can often contain trans fats. Hydrogenation is the process of adding hydrogen to liquid oils to transform them into a solid or semi-solid state. The problem with trans fats is that they are high in LDL cholesterol, which is the bad type that you should try to reduce.
The benefits to the food industry don’t seem to come from extra flavour or nutritional benefits but due to cost and to make the food last longer on the supermarket shelves. It seems that the problem stems from the body’s inability to easily metabolise trans fats. The human enzyme lipase is ineffective against the hydrogenated vegetable oil trans fat. Alex Renton from the Daily Mail likens it to eating candle wax where the fats stay in your blood for longer and are more likely to form deposits on your artery walls. Nutrition experts even say they are more dangerous than the butter they replaced.
After many campaigns to eradicate trans fats from foods the food industry started to listen but it seems that trans fats still remain in a host of products. Foods that are more likely to contain trans fats include commercially baked goods such as crackers and cookies as well as fried foods like doughnuts and fries. Other foods to be careful about include: muffins, pizza, pastries, meats, cheeses, cakes and pies.
The problem with trans fats is that we are often unaware of the health risks. Unlike the risks with consuming alcohol or cigarettes that have been well documented, trans fats are often a hidden danger that leaves the consumer in the dark. Be careful what you put into your body and try to minimise your intake of both saturated and trans fat foods.