In the last year or so the food additive trans fat seems to be in the news health reports nearly everyday. Trans fat was first developed in the 1940's by adding hydrogen molecules into vegetable oil, which partially hardens the oil which can be used in a variety of foods. It gives foods a better taste and extends their shelf life. Up until about 1990 it was considered safe because it was produced from vegetable oils but ongoing research soon discovered that trans fats increase cholesterol levels which can increase the risk for coronary artery disease, heart disease, and strokes. |
This is one case where creating a food product did not have the desired results. Trans fat does not occur naturally and was developed to help processed foods last longer while making them palatable. Unfortunately its effects on human physiology were never fully researched until 50 years after its development because it was assumed that vegetable oils derived from plant sources were safe. As science has learned more about the effects of different fats on the body this is no longer true. While some types of fat are safe others such as saturated fats and trans fats both are capable of raising cholesterol levels to unsafe levels.
Trans fats are bad for the simple reason that they raise the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood stream. LDL, or low density lipoproteins, are the bad half of the cholesterol equation. A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood stream leads to excessive plaque build-up which blocks and clogs the arteries. This increase the risk for coronary artery disease which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, particularly if any of these plaque formations breaks free of the artery wall in the form of a blood clot.
The other half of the cholesterol equation is high density lipoproteins, or HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol. It is considered beneficial because it function is to pick up the excess bad LDL cholesterol in the blood stream and return it to the liver where it is disposed of and excreted out of the body. Trans fat lowers HDL levels while increasing LDL levels which is the exact opposite of what we need to have happen in the prevention of heart disease.
There are alternatives to trans fat and saturated fat. Food and food products such as olive oil, peanut oil, and canola oil contain monounsaturated fats, which when eaten in moderation can lower blood cholesterol levels. Another good choice are foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and nuts. Omega-3's have been shown to help protect against the risk of heart disease and its complications.
Although many food manufacturers and restaurants are moving away from trans fats it still is important to read the nutrition labels on the food products you buy. Avoid restaurants that continue to use trans fat in their cooking processes and stop using cooking oils that are high in trans fat and saturated fat for home cooking. Doing these simple things can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease for you and your family.
To learn more about trans fat and cholesterol please visit the website Lowering Cholesterol by clicking here.
Related Articles -
trans fat cholesterol, trans fat, trans fats, cholesterol, what is trans fat, dangers of trans fat,