Artificial trans fats are industrial trans fats that are hydrogenated fats which are very harmful to our health. They are present in vegetable oils that are altered chemically to increase their shelf life. 

Trans fats are formed with the hydrogenation of unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are hydrogenated with hydrogen gas and high pressure to increase the products stability and shelf life. This process also changes the chemical compositions of fats that make it difficult for our body to break it down. The intake increases the risk of heart issues and also raises bad cholesterol (LDL) without having any effect on good cholesterol (HDL). 

Trans fats are also linked to causing inflammation which is a cause for chronic problems like arthritis, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart issues. It also tends to cause damage to the endothelium (inner lining of our blood vessels) and impairs artery dilation. Trans fats :

  • Affect insulin sensitivity: Trans fats are linked to harm glucose function and insulin, causing high blood sugar and elevated belly fat.
  • Causes inflammation: Inflammation is a primary cause for many health conditions, and trans fats increase inflammation in the body. 
  • Trans fats also tend to damage the inner lining of the blood vessels, impairing artery dilation and increases the risk of certain cancers.
  • Harmful for the heart: Consumption of artificial trans fats increases the risk of heart diseases. They tend to increase the LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body.
  • How to avoid trans fats: Before buying any product read the nutrition labels carefully, avoid eating foods with partially hydrogenated items. Try to cut out processed foods from your diet.

Stay away from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils as they are the major contributing factor of trans fats in your diet with other processed food options. These oils have a long shelf life and are cheap to manufacture. Apart from hydrogenated vegetable oils, all processed foods contain trans fats.

Fried foods that are cooked in processed vegetable oils also have trans fats present in them. When any oil is reused for the frying purpose, its trans fat content increases.  

The government has taken several steps to limit the amounts of trans fats in food options. The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI ) is aiming to reach the 2% level of trans fats by 2022 in India. The Existing regulation of FSSAI states that the max limit of trans fat should be less than 5% by weight for vegetable oil/fat, margarine (bakery and industrial), vanaspati and bakery shortening but the proposed regulation is aiming at not more than 2% trans fat in all fats and oils.  

Coconut oil and olive oil are oils that are stable at high temperatures in comparison to oils like canola oil, sunflower oil, rice bran oil, soybean oil, etc. that form acrylamide (a toxic substance) at high temperatures. 

How to avoid Trans fats:

Food manufacturers can label products trans fat-free if the amount of trans fats is less than 5% by weight. So it becomes very important to become a smart consumer and read nutrition labels properly. 

Reduce the amount of processed foods in your diet and avoid food items if the ingredient list has partially hydrogenated items. 

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