Trans fats: a latent danger

Trans fats: a latent danger!

Trans fats: a latent danger

You try to take care of yourself, at least in a general way. Eat healthier, exercise, stay active. And if you can, and taste is not sacrificed, one does not find problems in preferring the Light version, zero cholesterol and no fat content. After all, what more would one like than to be able to eat rich and healthy. The problem is that this healthy eating becomes more and more complicated.

Every day new formulas and supplements are born: yogurts with “bio” or “regularis” something, foods with different omegas (3,6,9), juices with all types of vitamins, milk reinforced in calcium, iron, zinc, and whatever comes. You no longer know what those things are, what they are for, or if they really exist. However, he ends up buying them.

The latest innovation in the world of food labels is the promise of zero-percent trans fat content. One gets happy, grabs the packet of potato chips that he was going to buy and eats it in one, feeling less guilty as he thinks: “zero percent trans fat.”

But what is trans fat? Is it something that food had and not now? Or is it simply something that they never had but that they announce to create a false image of ” healthier “? To clarify these doubts there is only one way out: to investigate the world of trans fats.

But let’s start from the beginning: what is dietary fat?

Dietary fats are those that are found in food, and are an essential part of any healthy diet. The basic components of dietary fats are fatty acids. All dietary fats contain a mixture of saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids. The type of fatty acid that predominates will be the one that determines if a fat is solid or liquid, and if it is characterized as saturated or unsaturated.

Fats of animal origin such as beef, butter and vegetable oils (such as oil derived from palm, nut and coconut) have a firm consistency at room temperature, and contain higher levels of acids saturated fat. For this reason they are considered saturated fats.

Oils such as soy, corn, cottonseed, or other vegetables, have a rather liquid consistency at room temperature and contain higher levels of unsaturated acids. Being thus considered, as unsaturated fats.

Trans fats are unsaturated fatty acids, which are formed when vegetable oils are processed and transformed into more solids or a more stable liquid. This process is called hydrogenation. Although there are also trans fats in natural foods, such as certain meats and dairy products.

So, what foods contain trans fats? Trans fats are present, in different amounts, in a wide variety of foods. For example, in most foods made from partially hydrogenated oils, such as baked goods, fried foods, and margarine. Most trans fats come from processed foods and only about 1/5 of the trans fats in our diet come from animal sources.

The reason why trans fats are incorporated into food through this hydrogenation process, which converts the oils into a more stable liquid or into a semi-solid element, is to achieve a high-quality food product manufacturing; they stay fresh longer and have a more appetizing texture. It is not always possible to replace unhydrogenated oils due to differences in the ways in which these oils function to produce acceptable foods.

For example, using partially hydrogenated vegetable oil to make a margarine, a spreadable dressing with a lower saturated fat content than lard can be obtained and can be used properly if it is removed from the refrigerator. It can produce fat to fry potatoes, bases for puff pastry cakes and crispy crackers. Products that are made with partially hydrogenated oils do not get rancid (fats acquire a strange taste) as quickly as those made using non-hydrogenated oils.

In addition, trans fats are used as a substitute for baking and frying fats that contain higher levels of saturated fats (eg, fats vaccines, shortening and other highly saturated vegetable oils such as palm oil, palm kernel oil and oils). of coconut).

In the mid-80s, the food industry responded to the recommendations of health authorities and the interests of consumers, to try to reduce the amount of highly saturated oils and animal fats that were used in food. The best alternative, and in many cases the only alternative, was to reformulate the products and replace the highly saturated fats with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

But of the 80 ‘at the time, the tortilla turned and showed another face. Recently, it was discovered that saturated fats, trans fats and dietary cholesterol increase the level of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the blood. And there is evidence to suggest that the consumption of trans fats lowers the level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. And as we know, high cholesterol increases the danger of complex cardiovascular diseases.

It is so that the thing is complicated, and the one who opted in the 80 to forget the butter in favor of margarine, must return to his old ways and begin to train to read labels, looking for the new phrase magic: “without trans fat” .

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