Transfats, known as bad fats, increase the risk of illness even when consumed in small quantities. Transfats-rich foods are products first processed with hydrogenated fat. Transfats are resistant to body heat. Transfats harden and accumulate in veins, causing residue. Therefore, it can be said that transfats block the veins. Blockage of heart veins, especially with these fats, leads to heart diseases. Transfer: The Hidden Enemy in Our Favorite Foods

According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, women consuming too many transfats carry a 50 percent greater risk of heart attack compared to those consuming less. Transfats can stay in room temperature for a long time without deterioration, which means longer shelf life, a property extremely important for manufacturers. The most obvious effect of this type of fat is in our veins. Transfats lower good cholesterol and raise bad cholesterol. Here’s everything you need to know about transfats.

What are transfats?

Some meat and dairy products contain small amounts of naturally occurring transfats. However, most trans fats are formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to solidify at room temperature. This partially hydrogenated oil is less likely to spoil, so foods made with it have a longer shelf life. Some restaurants use partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in their deep fryers, because it does not have to be changed as often as other oils.

Food containing transfats

The manufactured form of transfats, known as partially hydrogenated oil, is found in a variety of food products, including:

Baked goods: Most cakes, cookies, pie crusts and crackers contain oil, which is usually made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Ready-made frosting is another source of transfats.

Snacks:Potato and corn chips often contain transfats. And while popcorn can be a healthy snack, many types of packaged popcorn use transfats to help cook or flavor the popcorn.

Fried food:Transfats are used in the cooking process of foods that require deep frying such as French fries and fried chicken.

Creamer and margarine: Some creamers and stick margarines also may contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Effect on your health

Transfat-rich foods tend to be high in sugar and calories, which, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), can lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes. In a meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal Magazine in 2015, Canadian researchers examined 20 studies analyzing the health effects of transfats in various countries. They found that consuming artificial transfats was associated with a 34 percent increase in the risk of dying for any cause, a 28 percent increase in the risk of catching heart disease, and a 21 percent increase in the risk of developing heart disease.

Food with vegetable oil

The American Heart Association recommends cutting foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil to reduce transfats in your diet.

Which fat should be consumed?

The most important issue to be considered in a healthy diet is the type of fat consumed. Recent studies indicate that, unlike dietary recommendations that support low-fat diets, proper fat intake is beneficial for health.

Three types of fatty acid

In general, there are three main fatty acids; namely, saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. All fatty acids are chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached to carbon atoms. A saturated fatty acid has the maximum number of hydrogen atoms attached to each carbon atom.

For this reason, it is said to be “saturated” with hydrogen atoms, and all carbons are connected to each other by single bonds. In some fatty acids, a pair of hydrogen atoms is missing in the middle of the chain, and the two carbon atoms form a space separated with a double bond rather than a single bond. The chain is said to be “unsaturated” as it has fewer hydrogen atoms. Saturated fat increases total cholesterol.

In a healthy diet, 20 to 35 percent of your total calorie intake may come from fat, but saturated fat should make up less than 10 percent of your total calorie intake. Monosaturated oil found in olives, peanuts and canola oils is a healthier choice than saturated oil. Other foods that contain unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, are foods with healthy fats.

Risk reduction

Unsaturated fat typically comes from plant sources such as olive, hazelnut, sunflower or seed. However, fish also contain unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are often called “oils” unlike saturated fat, these oils often contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Some food products, such as coconut oil and palm oil, remain liquid at room temperature but are high in saturated fat. Unsaturated fats reduce your risk of getting sick.

What should you eat?

Adopt a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and dried fruits. Also limit red meat and sugary foods and drinks.

Use naturally occurring, non-hydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil.

Look for food treated with non-hydrogenated oils, rather than partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils or saturated oil.

Donuts, cookies, crackers and cakes are some of the foods that contain transfats. See how often you eat them and limit your consumption.

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