Trans fats are considered the most harmful type of dietary fat for you, and your family.
These days the major source is processed foods. Processed foods often contain ‘partially hydrogenated oils’, which are industrially-produced trans fats.
Partially hydrogenated oils are made by turning liquid vegetable oils into solid fats. Termed hydrogenation, it’s an industrial process that involves heat, oil, hydrogen gas, and nickel used as a catalyst.
These synthetic fats are used to improve the texture of a food, and to extend shelf life. They are listed on food labels as ‘hydrogenated oils’ or ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oils’.
What Foods Are High In Trans Fats?
Small amounts of trans fats are naturally found in meat and dairy products. However for most people the primary source of trans fats are processed foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils.
Some examples of foods which may contain partially hydrogenated oils include:
- deep fried foods
- commercial baked goods; doughnuts, biscuits, cakes, chips and crackers
- commercial bread
- microwave popcorn
- non-dairy coffee creamers
Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil Health Risks
Research shows trans fats are the worst type of dietary fat. These fats significantly increase your risk of developing heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have acknowledged that reducing trans fat intake could prevent thousands of heart attacks, and deaths. Furthermore, the FDA determined that partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are no longer generally recognized as safe (GRAS), and should be phased out of the food supply.
Despite the health dangers, why do food producers continue to use partially hydrogenated oils? The answer is predictably simple: they are cheap and convenient.
The good news? Increasing consumer awareness is driving demand to ban the use of this toxic food ingredient. Completely prohibiting trans fats would definitely be a step in the right direction.
Truth In Labeling
Trans fats are produced on an industrial scale to fuel demand by large food manufactures. They are found in an extensive range of popular food products. Due to lax labeling laws in Australia and New Zealand it is not mandatory for food manufacturers to declare that a food product contains trans fats.
This means many people are unknowingly consuming dangerous trans fats as part of their daily diet. Until food companies provide more truth in labeling this risky food ingredient can easily find its way into your shopping trolley.
Plants Sterols And Margarine. How Healthy Are They?
Plant sterols, aka phytosterols are found in all plant foods. When you eating a nutritious plant-based diet you are naturally consuming plant sterols. The highest concentrations are found in vegetables, nut, seeds, legumes, and extra virgin olive oil.
Newer style cholesterol-lowering margarines are enriched with plant sterols to help reduce absorption of cholesterol.
The biggest drawback to this concept? There may be good research to support the cholesterol-lowering effects of plant sterols, however they may be less than beneficial when added to a tub of margarine. Margarine is a major source of trans fats.
This makes plant sterol enriched margarine an expensive, and unhealthy food choice.
A Natural Thyroid Diet Supports A Healthy Intake of Beneficial Dietary Fats
A nutritious thyroid diet that includes healthy sources of dietary fats is an important step to eliminate trans fat intake. Good quality grass fed butter, and healthy oils such as coconut oil, macadamia nut oil and extra virgin oil are all good sources of dietary fat.