Friday, 22 October 2010

Food for Thought: The Skinny on Trans Fats - A Heart Felt Warning

Eubie Blake, the famous jazz pianist, was asked how he felt as he approached his 99th birthday. “If I knew I was going to live this long,” he said, “I would have taken better care of myself!”
As parents we care about not only our own health, but the health of our family.  In my family, my Dad has always been the ‘health guru’. If something was wrong you called Dad, and if he said that that lump, freckle, cut or sore was ok, then there was no need to rush to the Doctor’s office! A warning about high blood pressure at a recent Doctors appointment had Dad investigating ways to improve heart health. So when he told me to be careful of trans fats, it was a warning I took seriously.
I had never heard of trans fats before so I’ve been doing a little research on this topic and what I’ve found so far is worrying – predominately because of the huge range of every day items I’ve found this additive is in so far.

I'd like to share with you the following information, extracted from an article I found online by Bonnie Jenkins called ‘Trans fats effect on heart health’.

So, what is trans fats?
Trans fat is formed when liquid vegetable oils go through a chemical process of hydrogenation to make the oils more solid. And food manufacturers love the stuff. After all, trans fat gives food a longer shelf-life and can improve taste, shape and texture. It’s also a really cheap ingredient.

Trans fats are not essential and do not promote good health. Coronary heart disease risks can be increased by consuming trans fats. Bad cholesterol can also be raised by trans fats, and they should only be consumed in trace amounts of less than 2 grams daily as recommended by the American Heart Association.

But here’s the glitch – any amount of trans fat is bad news and due to current food labelling regulations, it is possible that trace amounts of trans fats are in your food but not listed.

The Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, has  declared that there is NO safe amount of trans fat in the diet – and not just because of its effect on heart health. Some of the nation's leading medical researchers believe that high trans fat levels western diets may also be why childhood obesity is on the rise, why diabetes is at record levels and why some people develop cancer and other related health problems.

Most trans fat is found in shortenings, margarine, cookies, crackers, snack foods, fried foods, doughnuts, pastries, baked goods and other processed foods made with or cooked in partially hydrogenated oils. To find out if a food contains trans fat, check the ingredient label to see if partially hydrogenated oil – the primary source of trans fat – is included. If so, put it back on the shelf.

For more information on this topic, please see the full article at  

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