Hidden Truths about Trans Fats

A few years ago, I was fortunate that my husband informed me about the evils of trans fats.  I wish I had learned of this information sooner.  It is my hope that this post reaches consumers who may be unaware of the health ramifications when eating these types of fats.  I came across an article from the North Carolina Chiropractic Journal (by Walter H Schmitt) and appreciate how extensively Schmitt details the production of these types of fats.  I have included  highlights of this publication in the bullet points below.

All facts below are taken directly from the article, Poisons in Our Diet, by Walter H. Schmitt, Jr.  Find the article here

*There are dozens of references in scientific literature documenting the ill effects of trans fatty acids especially in relation to heart disease. (3, 18, 19).

*Typical ingredients sections of labels include such names as “partially hydrogenated soybean oil,” “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” “partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil,” and so on. Few family doctors, internists, or cardiologists are aware of the mass of recent research evidence indicting trans fats as increasing their patients’ risk of heart disease, much less the other adverse effects of consuming these poisonous substances.

*Some adverse effects of consuming trans fatty acids reported in humans and animals are:

Lowers the “good” HDL cholesterol in a dose response manner (the higher the trans level in the diet, the lower the HDL cholesterol in the serum);

Raises the LDL cholesterol in a dose response manner;

Lowers the amount of cream (volume) in milk from lactating females in all species studied, including humans, thus lowering the overall quality available to the infant;

Correlates to low birth weight in human infants;

Increases blood insulin levels in humans in response to glucose load, increasing risk for diabetes;

Affects the immune response by lowering efficiency of B cell response and increasing proliferation of T cells;

Decreases levels of testosterone in male animals, increases level of abnormal sperm, and interferes with gestation in females;

Decreases the response of the red blood cell to insulin, thus having a potentially undesirable effect in diabetics;

Causes adverse alterations in the activities of the important enzyme system that metabolizes chemical carcinogens and drugs (medications), i.e., the mixed function oxidase cytochromes P-448/450;


*The Top 10 “Trans Fat” Foods:

1. Spreads. Margarine is a twisted sister — it’s loaded with trans fats and saturated fats, both of which can lead to heart disease. Other non-butter spreads and shortening also contain large amounts of trans fat and saturated fat.

2. Packaged foods. Cake mixes, Bisquick, and other mixes all have several grams of trans fat per serving.

3. Soups. Ramen noodles and soup cups contain very high levels of trans fat.

4. Fast Food. Bad news here: Fries, chicken, and other foods are deep-fried in partially hydrogenated oil. Even if the chains use liquid oil, fries are sometimes partially fried in trans fat before they’re shipped to the restaurant. Pancakes and grilled sandwiches also have some trans fat, from margarine slathered on the grill.

5. Frozen Food. Those yummy frozen pies, pot pies, waffles, pizzas, even breaded fish sticks contain trans fat. Even if the label says it’s low-fat, it still has trans fat.

6. Baked Goods. Even worse news — more trans fats are used in commercially baked products than any other foods. Doughnuts contain shortening in the dough and are cooked in trans fat.

7. Chips and Crackers. Shortening provides crispy texture. Even “reduced fat” brands can still have trans fat. Anything fried (like potato chips and corn chips) or buttery crackers have trans fat.

8. Breakfast food. Breakfast cereal and energy bars are quick-fix, highly processed products that contain trans fats, even those that claim to be “healthy.”

Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran Cereal has 1.5 grams per 3/4 cup serving.

Post Selects Great Grains has 1 gram trans fat per 1/2 cup serving.

General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal has .5 grams per 3/4 cup serving.

Quaker Chewy Low Fat Granola Bars Chocolate Chunk has .5 grams trans fat.

9. Cookies and Candy. Look at the labels; some have higher fat content than others. A chocolate bar with nuts — or a cookie — is likely to have more trans fat than gummy bears.

10. Toppings and Dips. Nondairy creamers and flavored coffees, whipped toppings, bean dips, gravy mixes, and salad dressings contain lots of trans fat.

Bottom line, you have to read labels at all times.  Look beyond the claim that a product has 0 grams of trans fats.  If a product has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, food manufacturers can label it 0 grams trans fat.  Due to this misleading loophole, look at the ingredients section because if you see hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, then the food still contains trans fats.

On a lighter note, olive, coconut, and avocado oils can serve as wonderful alternatives!


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