(NaturalNews) Of all the poisons in the food supply, trans fats are perhaps the most frequently overlooked. They're hidden in all sorts of foods, from crackers and baked goods to breakfast cereals. And thanks to intentionally deceptive FDA-approved labeling laws, food products that contain sizable amounts of trans fatty acids can still declare "trans fats free" right on their labels (this clever trick involves reducing serving sizes until the trans fat level drops to 0.5 grams per serving, at which point the FDA says companies can just "round down" to zero).
But just how damaging are trans fats, really? Here, we've gathered an important collection of information that helps answer that question. Read this before you take another bite of a cookie, cracker or other baked food item. Keep trans fats out of your body and you'll be far healthier and more mentally alert!
The true dangers of trans fats
Shortening consists of almost one-fifth trans fats, and some brands of margarine contain almost one-fourth trans fats. The oils used to cook French fries and fried chicken in the United States consist of about 40 percent trans fats, and the amount increases when the cooking oil is heated. Trans fats now account for about 7.5 percent of the fat calories consumed in the United States, and the average American eats nearly five pounds of trans fats each year. - Stop Prediabetes Now: The Ultimate Plan to Lose Weight and Prevent Diabetesby Jack Challem
The downside for consumers is the dangerous trans fats that are formed with hydrogenation. The ingestion of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and the trans fats that are formed with this process has been linked to increases in cancer, heart disease, and many other chronic degenerative disorders. What is wrong with trans fats? Trans fats, formed during hydrogenation, are actually toxic substances for our cell membranes. When our cells contain an overabundance of trans fats, the cells become leaky and distorted. This can promote vitamin and mineral deficiencies. - The Guide to Healthy Eatingby M.D. David Brownstein
The amount of trans fats consumed daily in the United States varies tremendously from person to person. Trans fats are so common in processed foods that the average consumer does not know how much he or she is consuming. Trans fats have no cholesterol. Trans fats have no trace compounds that may be beneficial to health. Trans fats are very useful to the food industry and, if replaced, a proper substitute must be found. Suggestions have been made for partial replacements to keep their level low. Palm oil could be a good choice. - The Trans Fats Dilemma and Natural Palm Oilby Gene A. Spiller
It is not always easy to make sense of the research on trans fats but here's the short answer: if you can avoid trans fats, you should. These fatty acids may be only a small part of your total dietary fat, but small changes in your diet can add up to significant health benefits, and this is one change that is well worth making. - What to Eatby Marion Nestle
Although the amount of trans fatty acids appearing in margarine and shortening has been reduced in the United States, these damaging fats are still found in many other foods such as bakery items and fast food products. Trans fats become a major part of American diets when the 30 pounds of French fries consumed per capita are factored into dietary analysis. Trans fats often hide on dietary labels as partially hydrogenated fats. Learn to read labels and avoid trans fats. Growing public awareness regarding the dangers imposed by trans fats has prompted a reduction in their consumption. - Disease Prevention and Treatmentby The Life Extension Editorial Staff
Finally, in the United States, the FDA has ruled that, by 2006, all trans fats must be listed on food labels, thus allowing shoppers to make informed decisions about what they put in their bodies. Trans fats are often found in processed and convenience foods. Read labels carefully to avoid products containing them. If the ingredient list contains partially hydrogenated vegetable (or corn, soybean, or canola) oil or vegetable shortening, the product contains trans fats. Here are a few common culprits - they may surprise you. - Creating and Maintaining Balance: A Woman's Guide to Safe Natural Hormone Healthby Holly Lucille
But hydrogenation has serious health consequences because it creates trans fats. Trans fats are polyunsaturated vegetable oils that have been processed to make them remain solid at room temperature. Trans fats also come from frying food in polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and soy oil, all of which are not bad for you until they are heated. As you may know, trans fats increase the level of bad LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream and lower your level of good HDL cholesterol. - Spent: Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Feel Great Againby Frank Lipman, Mollie Doyle
It has been suspected for some years that trans fats may be no better for us than saturated fats, but more evidence is emerging and it now seems that perhaps trans fats can actually be more damaging, for instance in the case of heart disease. It now appears, according to a very large American trial, that trans fats not only raise levels of LDL blood cholesterol (the "baddie") but also lower levels of the "good" cholesterol, HDL. Trans fats are the only types of fat to do this - natural saturated fats, such as butter or cheese, may raise LDL levels but also raise HDL levels. - The Food Bibleby Judith Wills
They occur naturally at low levels in meat and dairy products, but most of the trans fats in the American diet are formed during a hydrogenation process that renders vegetable oils solid. Trans fatty acids inflict damage akin to the effects of saturated fats, except trans fats hit you with a double whammy - in addition to raising LDL levels, trans fats decrease your HDL levels at the same time. This is one reason many researchers consider trans fats to be a bigger bad boy than saturated fats. - Food Synergy: Unleash Hundreds of Powerful Healing Food Combinations to Fight Disease and Live Wellby Elaine Magee
Trans fats make the coronary arteries more rigid and contribute to the formation of blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Trans fats also reduce HDL ("good") cholesterol levels and increase LDL ("bad") cholesterol. According to a study by Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, approximately 30,000 premature heart disease deaths each year can be attributed to the consumption of trans fats. - Bottom Line's Health Breakthroughs 2007by Bottom Line Health
In 2006, the FDA began to require food companies to list trans fats (which are linked to pre-diabetes and cardiovascular disease) in Nutrition Facts boxes; however, amounts of trans fats that are less than 0.5 (one-half) gram per serving do not have to be listed. In other words, products containing 0.49 gram of trans fats (or less) can be labeled as having zero trans fats per serving. The catch? People can easily consume one or more grams by eating a large serving or two servings. - Stop Prediabetes Now: The Ultimate Plan to Lose Weight and Prevent Diabetesby Jack Challem
There is now a lot of interesting work going on regarding the health effects of trans fats, and what is clear is that trans fats appear to be doing many nasty things. Besides affecting the LDL and HDL, trans fats increase triglycerides, and they increase the dysfunction of the endothelium in arteries, that layer of cells lining blood vessels, which increases risk of heart attack. Lp(a) is now recognized as an independent lipid risk factor for coronary heart disease, and trans fats compared to saturated fats do raise Lp(a). Again, that's also something we don't really understand. - The Trans Fats Dilemma and Natural Palm Oilby Gene A. Spiller
These trans fats can lower HDL, the good cholesterol, something that saturated fats do not do. The larger the intake of trans fats, the greater the lowering of the HDL. Recent research shows some deleterious effects of trans fats on the particle size of LDL and levels of Lp(a), both indicators of heart disease risk. The presence of natural unsaturated fats may play a protective role when trans fats are consumed as it does when saturated fats are consumed. Manufacturers of trans fat may find other ways to hydrogenate that yield a different kind of fat. - The Trans Fats Dilemma and Natural Palm Oilby Gene A. Spiller
Another surprising place to find trans fats is in cow's milk. Cows are ruminant animals, which means that they regurgitate partially digested food from their four-compartment stomachs, chew it a while, and swallow it again. Bacteria in their stomachs produce trans fats, which end up in milk fat. The amount of trans fats produced varies over the year and is higher in the summer than the winter. Consumption of trans fats in the United States tripled from the early 1900s until the mid-1960s, when it began to decline. - Eat Right, Live Longer: Using the Natural Power of Foods to Age-Proof Your Bodyby Neal Barnard, M.D.
In 2003, the National Academy of Sciences recommended that the level of trans fats in the diet should be as low as possible. Amounts as low as 2 or 3 grams of trans fat a day can increase risk of heart disease. Look for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated on food labels to identify those that contain trans fats. The nurses' health study revealed that women who ate the greatest amount of trans fats had a 50 percent greater risk of heart disease. In July 2003, the Food and Drug Administration mandated that trans fats be listed on food and supplement labels by 2006. - The Anti-Aging Solution: 5 Simple Steps to Looking and Feeling Youngby Vincent Giampapa, Ronald Pero, and Marcia Zimmerman
One variant of hydrogenated oils, the so-called trans fats, deserves some special mention. You've read the headlines: "Doctors Find That Margarine Is as Bad as Butter." The accompanying news stories said that trans fats, which are found in supposedly healthful margarine, could push your cholesterol level through the roof. Appropriately concerned consumers started to check the labels on margarine and other foods. But they never found the words trans fats on any of them, either in the ingredient lists or on the government-required nutrition labels. What's going on here? - Eat Right, Live Longer: Using the Natural Power of Foods to Age-Proof Your Bodyby Neal Barnard, M.D.
The most harmful fats were trans fats and hydrogenated fats. Trans fats are formed when liquid vegetable oils go through a chemical process called hydrogenation. Hydrogen added to fat makes it more solid. Trans fats are not normally found in nature, and our bodies have a hard time metabolizing them. (Sound familiar? I liken this to the difference between synthetic and natural hormones.) Industry loves trans fats because products made with them never seem to go bad (it seems bacteria can't handle them, either). - The Natural Hormone Makeover: 10 Steps to Rejuvenate Your Health and Rediscover Your Inner Glowby Phuli Cohan
Despite the opposition of powerful food lobbies, the FDA finally mandated the labeling of foods containing trans fats, beginning on January 1, 2006. This was almost three years after it created the regulation in July 2003 and more than a decade after the dangers of these fats were clear. The FDA estimates that just making people aware of the dangers of trans fats with the new labeling regulations will save between $900 million and $1.8 billion each year in medical costs, lost productivity, pain, and suffering. - Ultra-Metabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Lossby Mark Hyman
Of all the fats, we find the so-called synthetic, or trans fats, to be the most dangerous. These man-made products are fats that have been altered chemically to produce new substances. The reason the food industry created trans fats is that these fats are very resistant to oxidation (or going rancid), giving foods with high trans fat content a very long and stable shelf life. Trans fats include partially hydrogenated fats, margarine, and shortening; today they can be found in every aisle of the supermarket. - Ultraprevention : The 6-Week Plan That Will Make You Healthy for Lifeby Mark Hyman, M.D.
Partially saturated or partly hydrogenated oil almost invariably contains trans fats. Oils that have been made into margarine contain significant amounts of trans fats, although food processors have made recent efforts to reduce the trans fat content of some margarines. Most processed foods and baked goods contain partially hydrogenated oils, and there is now a significant amount of these abnormal fats in the Western diet. These fats increase the risk of developing heart disease and cancer more than natural saturated fats. In addition, trans fats interfere with normal immune function. - The Vitamin Revolution in Health Careby Michael Janson, M.D.
Fortunately, as awareness about trans fats increases, more products like "trans-fat free" or "non-hydrogenated" margarines are becoming available. Labeling is improving too. While listing the trans fat content in food labels has long been up to the manufacturer's discretion, a report from the Institute of Medicine, concluding that there is no safe level of trans fats in the diet, finally prompted the Food and Drug Administration to require that trans fats be listed as part of the Nutrition Facts food label. This decision came after several years of negotiations. - The Okinawa Diet Plan : Get Leaner, Live Longer, and Never Feel Hungryby Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., D. Craig Willcox, Ph.D., Makoto Suzuki, M.D.
For example, spreadable tub margarine is less hydrogenated (and less hard) than stick margarine and so has fewer trans fats. Most of the trans fats in the American diet are found in commercially prepared baked goods, margarines, snack foods, and processed foods. Commercially prepared fried foods, like French fries and onion rings, also contain a good deal of trans fat. Trans fats are worse for cholesterol levels than saturated fats because they not only raise LDL (lethal) cholesterol but also lower HDL (healthy) cholesterol - a real double whammy. Saturated Fats - Just Plain Bad. - The Okinawa Diet Plan : Get Leaner, Live Longer, and Never Feel Hungryby Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., D. Craig Willcox, Ph.D., Makoto Suzuki, M.D.
Most of these enticing desserts, fried foods, and convenience foods are deadly, heart-attack-causing foods, even if they contain no animal products and no cholesterol, because of the trans fats they contain. Even Orville Redenbacher's natural microwavable popcorn contains artery-clogging trans fats. More than two years ago, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to count trans fat as saturated fat on labels and to ban claims like "low cholesterol" or "low saturated fat" on foods that are high in trans fats. - Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Lossby Dr. Joel Fuhrman
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