What is it? Why is it so Dangerous?

By Dr. Bob Marshall

Trans fatty acids are also known as trans fat or hydrogenated oil. Trans fat is an artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are artificially hardened into solid fat. This form of fat does not occur in nature and is sometimes called “plastic fat”. Trans-fat is associated with initiating poor health and degenerative diseases, including cancer. In fact, Dr. Johanna Budwig, a famous German biochemist and leading European authority on fats and nutrition, proved that trans-fat help to initiate cancer. Trans fat does not belong in the human body if good health is desired.

Banned in Europe

In many countries, such as Europe, trans-fat are banned for use in their food supply. However, since trans-fats are cheap (replacing the more expensive healthy oils) and extend the shelf life of foods tremendously, many European food companies make foods with trans fats solely for export to America (since these trans-laden foods cannot be sold in their own country). Beware of those tasty-looking, imported Swiss cookies or those authentic-appearing German crackers. Instead, read the label for terms such as “hydrogenated oil”. It is shocking to realize how much trans fat has contaminated our food supply.

Culprit Foods

Trans fat is found in many pre-made foods such as bread, doughnuts, cookies, pastries, crackers, bagels, margarine, shortening, salad dressings, mayonnaise and fried foods such as French fries and fried chicken. Typical French fries have about 40% trans fatty acids and many popular cookies and crackers range from 30% to 50% trans fatty acids. Doughnuts have about 35% to 40% trans fatty acids. Trans fat is a food company’s financial dream because instead of using the healthier oils, trans fats are much cheaper, reducing costs, extending storage life of products and can improve flavor and texture.

Dangers of Trans Fats

Consumption of trans fat can increase blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, while lowering levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL), known as “good” cholesterol. It can cause serious clogging of arteries, Type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, as well as increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer and infectious diseases. The trans fats also incorporate themselves into your cellular membranes, creating weaker immunity, making you more vulnerable to attack by infectious microorganisms. In the brain, trans fats are linked to poor memory, failing thought processes and attention deficit problems.

Labeling of Trans Fats

Currently, food companies are not required to list trans fat on Nutrition Fact labels so consumers have no way of knowing how much is in the food they were eating. Further, there is no safety limit for the daily intake of trans fat. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only said that “intake of trans fats should be as low as possible.” The real truth is that it should be none at all.

In a small step in the right direction, the FDA has announced a final rule requiring food manufacturers to list trans fat on Nutrition Facts labels— but not until 2006— so consumers still need to carefully read labels in making food choices until that time.

Reading Labels

While some foods are obvious sources of trans fats, such as bakery items and fried foods, other processed foods, such as cereals and waffles, can also contain trans fat. To determine the amount of trans fat in a food, read the ingredient label and look for the terms, “shortening,” “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil.” The higher on the list these ingredients appear, the more trans fat in the product. If any of these terms appear, avoid that product like the plague.

Treat your body as a treasure— for surely it is: your greatest wealth is truly your own health. And as never before in history, your health is under siege.

Another way of revealing the amount of trans fat is to add up the amount of fat in a product (including saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), provided the amounts are listed under Nutrition Facts, and compare the total with the total fat on the label. If they don’t match, the difference is likely due to trans fat present, especially if partially hydrogenated oil is listed as one of the first ingredients.

Keeping the Consumer Happy

Some companies, such as Frito Lay, Lipton, and Nestle have begun to take steps to eliminate trans fat in some products. Nestle is removing it from Rolo, Toffee Crisp and possibly other products. Their competitor, Cadbury, is also considering removing trans fats from some of their products.

Creating Awareness of “Dangerous” Fat

Recently, a lawsuit was filed against Nabisco, the Kraft Foods unit that makes Oreo cookies, which sought a ban on the sale of Oreo cookies because they contained trans fat, making them dangerous to eat. The case was later withdrawn because the lawyer who filed the suit said the publicity surrounding the case accomplished what he set out to do: create awareness about the dangers of trans fat. Kraft is also among the companies making an effort to reduce trans fatty acid in their products.

Reversing the Damage of Trans Fats

If you have eaten trans fats (so common in pre-made foods and especially, restaurant foods), whereby you are guaranteed to have this abnormal fat incorporated into your own body cell membranes (thus weakening your immunity and ability to heal), the good news is that research shows that returning to the eating of healthy fats can gradually replace the unhealthy trans fat in your cellular lipid membranes and return them to normal.

The Healthy Oils

So, ditch the doughnuts, blow out the bagels and forget the French fries. Your health is on the line here. Let’s get back to super healthy bodies by eating by eating delicious, organic foods, including healthy oils such as pure, unhydrogenated, virgin coconut oil, organic flax oil, extra virgin Moroccan olive oil and “beyond organic” sesame oil. These healthy oils are delicious, cardio-protective and promote your best health as well as protection against disease. They can be used in salads, dressings, main dishes or in snack foods such as homemade dips. Enjoy great-tasting, healthy oils often and begin a new adventure of feeling and looking great.



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