Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease

Many people are confused about what is considered healthy and what is unhealthy these days. It seems there is always something to look out for that can cause us harm and yet these ingredients that are so bad for us are in so many of our favorite foods. We hear about saturated fats, unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats and now we always hear about trans fats. It becomes confusing hearing about all these types of fats and trying to figure out which ones are good for us or bad for us is even more confusing.

To start off lets discuss what saturated fats are. These are the fats that are found in most animal based foods. Meats, dairy and lards all contain high levels of saturated fats. High amounts of this fat are also found in coconut and palm oil. This type of fat is very bad for us, especially when consumed often or in large amounts. The reason they are bad for us is they cause us to have high cholesterol. These foods cause our arteries to clog which can eventually lead to heart disease or stroke. In order to avoid serious health risks as well as weight gain you must eat these types of foods in moderation.

Once the proof of just how bad saturated fats were for us came available, the food industry decided to make the switch from using saturated fats in there processed foods over to unsaturated fats. However the problem lied in the fact that the unsaturated fats did not stay fresh nearly as long. In order to make the unsaturated fats last longer they begin hydrogenating the fats. This process extends the shelf life of the foods containing the oils. The new ingredient is now called partially hydrogenated oil. During the process of hydrogenating these oils there is a new fatty acid formed which are called trans fatty acids.

Unfortunately trans fatty acids have also been proven to be unhealthy. Causing our bad cholesterol levels to rise and our good cholesterol levels to lessen, it seems they have switched one unhealthy fat for another. So when you see an ingredient label that has saturated fats along with trans fats you should really beware.

Luckily it seems that a lot of food companies are catching on to the fact that people do not want all these unhealthy ingredients in their foods and are starting to remove the trans fats from many of our favorite foods. Unfortunately baked goods are very high in all sorts of fats and therefore should only be eaten as an occasional treat. When you shop for processed foods you should take a close look at what the labels say. By paying attention to the amount of saturated fats and trans fats you consume you can really watch your weight and prevent from developing high cholesterol and obesity.

To avoid eating saturated fats and trans fats you should make sure that your diet is made up mostly of foods that do not contain these fats at all. Fruits, vegetables and grains are great sources of nutrition without all the poor ingredients. Make sure you eat small portions of lean meats and avoid consuming large amounts of butter, margarine, or lards in your food. Also stick with low fat dairy products and eat as little processed foods as possible. By steering clear of the junk food isles at the supermarket you will be lowering the amount of saturated fats and trans fatty acids that you will consume. Make sure to stick to oils that contain good fats when cooking. Oils such as olive, flax, sunflower, safflower and corn are okay to use as long as you make sure they have not been through the hydrogenated process.


Last updated on Jan 8th, 2010 and filed under Cardiovascular Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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