The Health Risks Associated with Hydrogenated Fats
It has been reported that consumption of hydrogenated fats may be worse than saturated fat consumption. This article will review what’s currently known.
Hydrogenated fats, once thought of as a solution to food preservation and improved consumer health, have actually in many cases, turned out to be worse than saturated fats. These fats are used by the food industry to simply prevent foods from turning rancid, preserving shelf life. This along with the pleasing velvety texture of these fats during consumption had made trans-fats popular. Unfortunately, scientific data has shown that consumption of these fats may pose a significant danger to one’s health.
What they are
Hydrogenated trans-fats are essentially saturate-like fats from plant oils that are heated and have hydrogen atoms added to it. The resultant mixture is a stiff fat that has a relatively high melting point. It can remain a solid fat up to seventy-two degrees Fahrenheit, making it an ideal fat for packaged goods. Essentially hydrogenation is a hardening process that converts unsaturated plant fats into becoming more saturated.
The problem with trans-fats is that they go even beyond what saturated fats do to our bodies. Numerous studies conducted by the Mayo clinic have shown that trans-fats, in the very least, are just as dangerous as saturated fats. Besides acting like saturated fats, the hydrogenated fats seem to additionally suppress the levels of the good HDL cholesterol, which aid in the removal of the LDL cholesterol, resulting in higher LDL, cholesterol and triglyceride blood levels.
Trans-fatty acids are present in many different foods that are store bought. Most of us realize that they are present in margarine products, to keep its stiff consistency at room temperature. They can also be present in store bought bakery items such as muffins, bread, crackers, donuts, potato chips, as well as many other products needing preservation. They are also used in many fast food restaurants, when it comes to frying French fried potatoes and other fried sandwich meats. Fortunately in the United States, as of January 2006, many of the food labels need to show the amount of trans-fats present in foods, allowing us to evaluate the amount of trans-fats we consume.
The good news is that the danger has been recognized and some action is currently taking place. Many manufacturers are now making margarines without or with lower amounts of hydrogenated fats. Trans-fat shortenings, exceedingly popular with fast food restaurants, are being slowly replaced with healthier alternatives.The menus at Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and KFC as well as other fast food restaurants are slowly reflecting this change. Many communities are also considering legislation to ban or reduce hydrogenated fat use. Municipalities, such as New York City, voted unanimously in December 2006, to ban the use of trans-fat use in all of its restaurants as of July 2007. Over twenty-four thousand restaurants will be affected.
All in all, trans-fats are being used less and less daily. Besides mimicking all the bad side effects of saturated fats, they additionally suppress HDL cholesterol, further fostering arterial clogging. As the use of these fats is being minimized, healthier food choices will become more available. With healthier choices, we as consumers can accurately know what’s in the foods that we consume and be more in control of our health.