Trans Fats: Double Danger to Heart Health

Trans fats raise your “bad” cholesterol while lowering your “good” cholesterol and increasing your risk of heart attack. This type of fat poses two health risks.

Trans fats are considered the worst type of fat to consume. Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats, also called trans fatty acids, increase “bad” cholesterol and also decrease “good” cholesterol. A diet high in trans fats increases the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in adults. The greater the consumption of trans fats, the higher the risk of heart and blood vessel disease.

Trans fats are so unhealthy that in the United States, food manufacturers have been banned from adding the main source of artificial trans fats to foods and beverages. Pl The government hopes that this measure will prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths every year.

Here is some information about trans fats and how to avoid them.

What are trans fatty acids?

Most trans fats come from an industrial process that involves adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, making it solid at room temperature. This partially hydrogenated oil is inexpensive and less likely to spoil, so foods made with it have a longer shelf life. Some restaurants use partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in their fryers because it doesn’t need to be changed as often as other oils. Some meats and dairy products contain a small amount of naturally occurring trans fatty acids. However, it is unclear exactly how these trans fats affect health.

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Trans fats in your diet

The manufactured form of trans fats, known as partially hydrogenated oil, can be found in a variety of food products, including:

– cakes, cookies and pies.
– Frozen pizza
– Fried foods, including fries, donuts and fried chicken
– Non-dairy coffee creamer
– Margarines

How do trans fatty acids harm you?

Doctors are concerned about added trans fats because they increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Trans fats also have a detrimental effect on cholesterol levels.

There are two main types of cholesterol:

Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, can build up in the walls of arteries, making them hard and narrow.

High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, picks up excess cholesterol and carries it back to the liver.

Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Read food labels

Check to see if a food’s ingredient list says “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.” If so, that means the food contains trans fatty acids. These hidden trans fats can add up quickly, especially if you eat multiple servings of different foods that contain these types of fats.

How low do you have to go?

Experts recommend limiting the consumption of trans fats as much as possible, especially the manufactured variety found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

What to eat?

Foods free of trans fats are not automatically healthy. Food manufacturers can replace trans fats with other unhealthy ingredients. Some of these ingredients like tropical oils, coconut, palm kernel and palm oils which contain a lot of saturated fats.


Saturated fats raise your total cholesterol level. In a healthy diet, about 20-35% of total daily calories can come from fat. Try to keep saturated fat to less than 10% of total daily calories. Monounsaturated fats, found in olive and peanut oils are healthier than saturated fats. Nuts, fish, and other foods containing omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids are other good choices for foods containing healthy fats.

* At press health we strive to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice. []

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