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This is a guest post by Brianna Elliott of ProbioticSmart.com
If you don’t have the desire to cut fat out of your diet, do yourself a favor and at least eliminate trans fats. Trans fats are “man made” meaning they are created in an industrial process.
Hydrogen is added to vegetable oils in order to make them more solid. Why does the industry do this when they know how bad it is for your health? Because it improves the shelf life of the foods they produce, and industries began adding it to food in the past before they knew the negative effects it has on health.
Not only do trans fatty acids have the ability to substantially increase one’s LDL cholesterol levels, they also decrease HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol that your body needs!) in the blood. If foods containing this “ingredient” are consumed regularly, they significantly increase your risk of developing heart disease or suffering from a stroke.
They also increase your risk of developing type II diabetes. All of these health problems are dangerous and can be fatal if they are not managed.
Trans fats can be found in a variety of foods. First of all, meat and dairy foods are likely to contain small amounts of it. Usually it is naturally occurring and may not have the same effects that artificial trans fats do. Fried foods, such as French fries and dough nuts are usually made with trans fats.
Trans fats change the taste and texture of foods, making them more desirable. It is cheap to make so it can be used in these foods over and over again without putting a dent in anyone’s wallet. Packaged baked goods are likely to be made with trans fat.
These types of foods include cookies, crackers, muffins, pizza dough, pastries, pies, cakes, and icings. Trans fats are beneficial for these foods because they lengthen the shelf life. Stick margarine and shortening may also contain trans fats, depending on the brand.
It is important to thoroughly look over food labels before purchasing foods. This is because producers aren’t required to put trans fat on the label if there is less than .5 grams of it. .5 grams may not sound like a lot, but it certainly does add up in your body. If a label does not list trans fat, look in the ingredient list.
Partially hydrogenated oil is another name for trans fat and is always listed even if a small amount is present in the food.
Trans fat should not have a place in your diet and you should try your hardest not to consume any on most days. If that’s not possible, try to limit it to less than 2 grams a day, including naturally occurring trans fats. In order to do this, substitute unhealthy processed food for fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low fat dairy products, and whole grains.
Replace trans and saturated fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These can be obtained through a variety of vegetable oils, avocados, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
Next time you find yourself reaching for a dough nut or ordering French fries, think about your heart. It will thank you later when your cholesterol and blood pressure are at healthy levels.
Brianna Elliott is a dietetics major at UW-Stout in Menomonie Wisconsin. She is also a regular contributor at ProbioticSmart.com – a leading health and nutrition blog as well as a contributor at PSCLife.com – your source for nutritional supplements online.