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What not to eat – trans fats

Sometime in the mid 90ties, a low-fat dietary/marketing trend started leaking from the US into the world. It blamed fat in general for all of our lifestyle diseases. Fat, meats, eggs, lard, cream and butter became evil and replaced with poultry, margarine and light-everything.

While limiting red meat can have numerous health benefits, one cannot say the same about the introduction of highly processed fats into our diet.

Plant oils that become trans fats- saturated fats, are also called hydrogenated fats, and are created during the processing of natural fats at high temperature, with the use of hydrogen. This changes the properties of those fats- in room temperature they now maintain a hardened consistency, lose reactivity to the sunlight and don’t become rancid. Also, the smoking point of such processed fats changes, which means that you get a lot more use out of the oils. Economically speaking, this all sounds ideal, right? Unfortunately, those same ‘improved’ traits of the processed product negatively influence our health. Every cell in our body has a fat sheath. Naturally occurring fats remain liquid at the room temperature, but trans fats are solid, which hardens the cell membranes and thus impairs their function. Scientific research indicates that the consumption of trans fats increases the risks of atherosclerosis, heart disease, bowel cancer, prostate and breast cancer, as well as lowers male fertility.

Hydrogenated oils can be found mainly in highly processed foods- such as sweets, savory snacks, mayonnaise and cream cheeses. They are also used in deep fryers for the preparation of many fast foods.

Once again, it is worth your while to read labels and if you are lucky, in your country of residence the producers are obliged to list the trans fats on the ingredient list. If, like in Poland for example, they do not have such requirement, it is best that you avoid processed foods and those with a long label, altogether.