What Are Trans Fats And Why Are They Bad?

I track all of my calories using the Calorie Counter at MyFoodDiary.com. It provides a great deal of detailed information regarding the food that you eat breaking it all down to what percentages of your daily intake are fats, carbs, and protein; giving you a breakout of nutrients as well as a summary of what you ate that was good and what was bad.

There are two recurring items of concern for me, sodium and trans fats.

According to WikiPedia:

Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats are not essential, and they do not promote good health. The consumption of trans fats increases the risk of coronary heart disease by raising levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. Health authorities worldwide recommend that consumption of trans fat be reduced to trace amounts. Trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are more harmful than naturally occurring oils.

Because of these health risks, the experts at MyFoodDiary.com recommend eating absolutely zero trans fats. This can be a difficult task as trans fats are commonly found in items such as, commercial baked goods (cakes, cookies, doughnuts, biscuits, etc), fried Foods (French fries, fish sticks, fried chicken, etc.), margarine and vegetable shortenings, and chips and crackers. The main reason manufacturers use these unsaturated fats is to increase product shelf life and improve the texture of some items. Those sound like poor reasons to subject your customers to health risks to me!

As with most dangers, awareness and avoidance are key in keeping yourself safe. Paying attention to food labels, particularly looking for items with zero trans fatty acids or hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils is your best bet. Increasing your intake of fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, grains and low-fat dairy items are a good start toward reducing your exposure to trans fats. Cooking for yourself using butter and other oils high in unsaturated fats is much healthier than eating highly processed although usually more convenient and tasty foods found in restaurants and drive-through locations.

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