Trans fats are associated with various health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease. So, learn how to reduce trans fat intake.
Our food items are full of different components, some of which are nutritious and offer health benefits, others may be the cause behind your health problems. Trans fats come under the second category. They are produced by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils during a process known as hydrogenation, which solidifies the fat. This method produces trans fats, which help to lengthen the shelf life and stability of food goods. However, they have been linked to several health problems, including heart diseases. A dish full of trans fats can increase the risk of heart disease, making it important to lower its intake. Here’s how to reduce trans fat intake.
What is trans fat?
Trans fat is an artificially created fat that results from hydrogenated liquid oils. This process changes the chemical structure of the fat, making it more solid at room temperature, explains nutritionist Dr Rohini Patil.
How does trans fat affect health?
Trans fat is associated with various health risks, including an increased risk of heart disease, elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and inflammation. As per the World Health Organization, consuming trans fat is responsible for up to 5,00,000 premature deaths from coronary heart disease each year across the globe. They may also contribute to insulin resistance and other metabolic disorders, says Dr Patil.
How to reduce trans fat intake?
Even though eating trans fat increases the risk of heart disease and death, five billion people in the world are still consume it, according to a January 2023 report by the WHO. You should make efforts to reduce trans fat intake to stay healthy. Here’s what you can do:
1. Choose healthy oils
Opt for oils high in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil or sunflower oil, for cooking. These oils, which are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, supply vital fatty acids that reduce inflammation and improve brain function, says the expert. Antioxidants included in healthy oils help shield cells from harmful components. Plus, they are more satiating and help reduce hunger, these oils also aid in weight management.
2. Read food labels
Trans fats are frequently indicated in the “total fat” section. Try searching for terms like “partially hydrogenated oils,” as these can be used to identify trans fats. Select goods that have little or no trans fat.
3. Limit eating processed foods
Reduce the consumption of processed and packaged foods, as they often contain hidden trans fats. These consist things like margarines, frozen dinners and prepackaged snacks. Whenever feasible, choose for whole, unprocessed foods because they often have higher nutritional content and are less likely to contain hidden trans fats.
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4. Cook at home
Prepare meals at home using fresh ingredients to have better control over the fats used in cooking. Making your own meals gives you the freedom to choose complete, unprocessed ingredients, reducing your exposure to the hidden trans fats found in fast food and prepackaged items. Embracing natural fats in your home cooking promotes a healthier diet and reduces the intake of unhealthy trans fats.
5. Opt for natural fats
Some natural trans fats are found in small amounts in nuts and avocado. Heart health is enhanced by using these oils instead of partly hydrogenated oils, which are frequently found in processed meals. Natural fats can be good for your health if you eat them in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. They supply vital fatty acids, maintain the integrity of cells, and facilitate the uptake of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
6. Choose trans fat-free alternatives
Seek out trans fat-free alternatives for common snacks and baked goods. Some snack options are popcorn (without too much oil or butter), fresh fruits, Greek yogurt or yogurt without fat. You can go for baked products such as low-fat cakes, muffins and cookies.
Do all packaged foods have trans fats?
Not all packaged foods contain trans fats, but it’s essential to scrutinise labels, says the expert. Terms such as “partially hydrogenated oils”, “shortening”, and “hydrogenated” indicate the potential presence of trans fats.
Making conscious decisions about the fats we consume is a crucial step toward a heart-healthy and balanced diet.