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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Fats >>  Trans Fat

Trans Fat

Trans fat is a type of unsaturated fatty acid that can be monounsaturated fatty acid or polyunsaturated fatty acid. Most of the trans fat we consume are industrially created, however small amounts of a particular type of trans fats are found in dairy products from ruminants and meat. Vegetable oils when are hardened into margarine or shortening, trans fats or trans fatty acids are formed. Trans fat is present in foods like cookies, pastries, french fries, doughnuts, crackers and other processed foods. Trans fats help to extend the storage life of the products, reduce cost and improve flavor and texture, so they are very popular with food manufacturers.

Trans fats are neither beneficial for health nor required like other healthy fats. Trans fats consumption should be reduced to trace amounts in diet due to its adverse effects on health. Trance fats if taken in excess tend to lower the high density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and increase low density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). This imbalance in the lipoprotein level increases coronary heart disease risk. Many researches also show that in addition to heart diseases, trans fat also increases the risk of getting diabetes, obesity and cancer. It also negatively affects the process of reproduction and lactation as well as compromising the immunity of a person.

Ways to choose dietary fat wisely

Although there is no upper safety limit for trans fat consumption, FDA suggests that trans fat intake in diet should be as low as possible. Keep in mind the following points while selecting fats –
  1. Read the nutritional label on the product carefully. Choose food products that are low in trans fats, cholesterol and saturated fats. Remember there is no daily value for trans fat and 20% or more daily value is on the higher side and 5% or less daily value is on the lower side.
  2. Monosaturated fats are healthier option than trans fats or saturated fats, as they don’t have any negative health effect if taken in recommended levels.
  3. Except soft margarine, coconut oil and palm kernel oil, vegetable oils are better to choose as compared to animal fats (including butter), hard margarine and solid shortening because vegetable oils have low amounts of trans fats, saturated fats and cholesterol.
  4. Consider healthier options like fish especially mackerel, salmon, tuna, sardines because of their omega-3 content, skinless poultry, lean meat, pork and beef (visible fat trimmed off) to reduce the trans fats in diet. Also use healthy cooking methods; instead of deep frying, try grilling, baking or broiling.
Submitted on January 16, 2014