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Trans fats, or hydrogenated vegetable oils, are considered to be the most harmful type of fatty acids. Their high consumption promotes the development of, among others type 2 diabetes and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, trans fats lower fertility and can be harmful to pregnant women and the developing baby. Where are trans fats found? Which products are better to eliminate from the menu?

Trans fats , specificallyunsaturated trans fatty acids , are isomers formed as a result of hydrogenation (hardening) of vegetable oils. Vegetable oils themselves are he althy, but the hardening process causes their properties to change.

Then they can be more dangerous to your he alth than the already very unhe althy saturated fatty acids. Scientists from Harvard University estimate that approximately 30,000 premature deaths each year are caused by the consumption of products containinghydrogenated vegetable oils .

Trans fats - where are they?

In nature, trans fats are found in milk (and its products, e.g. butter) and in the meat of ruminants. Their content depends on the type of meat - they are the lowest in pork and chicken, and the highest in beef and lamb.

According to American scientists, whose research results were published in "Advances in Nutrition", naturally occurring trans fats are not harmful to he alth because they have a different fatty acid profile than industrial trans fats.

On the contrary, they have he alth-promoting properties. For example, butter contains natural trans isomers such as vaccenic acid and CLA conjugated linoleic acid with very high antioxidant activity.

Trans fats, which are produced by industrial hydrogenation (hardening) of vegetable oils, are unhe althy. During this process, vegetable oil is enriched with hydrogen molecules and exposed to very high temperatures.

Heated vegetable oil molecules bind with hydrogen molecules, resulting in the formation of a new compound - hydrogenated (hydrogenated) fatty acid. Hardening is carried out in order to change the consistency of vegetable oils from liquid to solid.

Moreover, hydrogenationincreases the durability of vegetable oils which are very sensitive to light and temperature. Therefore, manufacturers add them to products that have a long shelf life.

Trans fats can also be produced when oils are heated or fried at high temperatures. Therefore, they are found in stale fats that are used many times in some gastronomic points.

The worst sources of trans fat:

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Trans fats increase the risk of infertility, heart disease, depression and cancer

Industrial trans fats are the most harmful type of fatty acids responsible for increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. According to research by specialists from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), trans fats, like saturated fatty acids, increase the concentration of "bad" cholesterol (LDL).

Its excess is deposited in the walls of arteries and causes atherosclerosis, which is associated, among others, with with a heart attack and a stroke. However, unlike saturated fatty acids, trans fats also lower levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL), which further increases the risk of developing, especially ischemic heart disease.

What's more, consuming trans fat increases triglyceride levels, which is another factor that increases the risk of this condition. The results of many studies suggest that the consumption of trans-unsaturated fatty acids significantly increases the risk of sudden cardiac death and death from ischemic heart disease. 1

Trans fatty acids may promote the growth of body weight and adipose tissue, especially visceral (intra-abdominal). Trans fat affects the metabolism of adipose tissue and may decrease the insulin sensitivity of tissues.

Human studies to date show that low TFA consumption is not associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

However, high amounts of trans-fatty acids in the diet can lead to an increase in insulin resistance, especially among people who are prone to developing diabetes - with abdominal obesity, already insulin resistance, or people who are less physically active .¹

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Author: Time S.A

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Find out moreImportant

Trans fats can be dangerous for pregnant women and babies

The unequivocal effect of trans fats on the he alth of pregnant women and the fetus has not yet been proven, but it is assumed that pregnant women who consume significant amounts of these fats may be at risk of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension, pre-eclampsia and increased insulin resistance.

Hardened vegetable fats can also be dangerous for the developing baby, as they pass through the placenta. It is believed that they may influence the birth weight, as well as determine the duration of pregnancy and the development of the baby's nervous system.

These "bad" fats also get into breast milk, which can also have dangerous consequences for the baby. In addition, it has been proven that hydrogenated vegetable fats reduce fertility in men - they make sperm of lower quality.

Check:What to eat to improve sperm quality?

Trans isomers of fatty acids also negatively affect the fertility of women and men. Replacement of 2 percent. energy derived from monounsaturated fatty acids, energy derived from trans isomers was associated with more than twice the risk of infertility caused by ovulation disorders.

It was also observed that women with the highest quintile of trans consumption had a 48% higher risk of being diagnosed with endometriosis. compared to women in the lowest quintile .² In contrast, men showed an inverse relationship between the level of TFA in semen and the concentration of sperm in them.

In addition, hydrogenated oils have been proven to increase the risk of developing cancer (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill researchers found that people with a diet high in trans fatty acids are nearly twice as likely to develop bowel cancer) and can cause muscle atrophy.

In addition, some scientists argue that increased dietary trans fat increases the risk of developing prostate and breast cancer, but there is insufficient and consistent evidence linking trans consumption to the development of these three cancers.

It also seems that high consumption of trans fat may be associated with an increased risk of depression.

According to an expertDr. Eng. Katarzyna Okręglicka from the Department of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene of the 1st Medical Faculty of the Medical University of Warsaw

There is insufficient scientific basis to conclude unequivocally that the trans fatty acids naturally present in butter, dairy products and ruminant meat are less harmful than the trans fatty acids produced in the processpartial hydrogenation of vegetable oils, as confirmed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). According to AOCS - American Oil Chemist Society research, the consumption of trans fatty acids from ruminant products in many European countries is currently higher than the consumption of plant-derived trans fatty acids. That is why it is so important to ensure the right proportions in the consumption of animal and vegetable products in the daily diet.

Trans fat - what products contain it?

In the daily diet, trans fats are consumed primarily as fat for spreading on bread or baking. Trans fats are used, inter alia, in in order to maintain the solid form of margarine, therefore they will be present in greater amounts in hard margarines, in cubes.

However, the most dangerous are products that contain baking or confectionery fat, as they contain up to approx. 86 percent. trans fats.

Trans fats are also found in margarines, but Dr. Katarzyna Okręglicka from the Department of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene, I Faculty of Medicine, Medical University of Warsaw, ensures that currently most margarines available on the Polish market contain trace amounts of trans fatty acids, i.e. less than 1 percent. fatty acids, which are described as "virtually absent".

For comparison - the content of naturally occurring trans fats in butter ranges from 4 to 5 percent. fatty acids. Soft spread margarines do not contribute to excess trans fat consumption.

The expert also explains that according to the IMACE Code of Practice (European Margarine Producers Association), the maximum content of trans fat in margarines was set at 2%. all fatty acids. In addition, IMACE is in favor of labeling all products that are a source of trans fats in which the 2% is exceeded. the level of these fats - adds Dr. Katarzyna Okręglicka.

Products with trans fats:

  • bread;
  • chips, puffs, sticks, crackers and any other s alty snacks. Thanks to trans fats, they are crisper and taste better. The more crunchy the crisps or crackers, the more hardened vegetable oils they contain;
  • sweets - mainly donuts, as they are fried in fats that are used repeatedly, as well as cakes, cookies, biscuits, biscuits, chocolate products;

Check:What is hidden in ready-made cookies?

  • fast-food - mainly fries (zsame reason as donuts);
  • Powdered soups, soup concentrates and sauces. Thanks to trans fats, they have a longer shelf life;
  • mayonnaise;
Worth knowing

In Poland, producers are not required to label trans fats on products

It is worth knowing that the regulation of April 8, 2004 (Journal of Laws No. 58, item 563) applies to food labeling, according to which producers are obliged to indicate the content only:

  • total fat (including phospholipids)
  • saturated fatty acids (acids without double bonds)

There is no word about hydrogenated (hydrogenated) unsaturated acids. This means that in Poland, producers are not required to label this type of fat on the packaging of their products. Therefore, while in the store, read the labels and do not buy products that say: "hydrogenated", "partially hydrogenated" or "hardened". The higher the position of these compounds on the list, the higher their content in the product.

The obligation to inform about the content of trans isomers has already been introduced e.g. in Denmark, Canada and Russia.

Trans fat - how much trans fat per day?

The maximum content of trans fats in a daily food ration should not exceed 1%. of energy per day, which is about 2 g with the consumption of 2000 kcal.

It's best to buy margarine as soft, even greasy as possible. The ones with the addition of butter are a good choice.

Avoid foods that do not contain cholesterol or low cholesterol that do not contain animal fats, as they often contain hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Dietitian warns against trans fats: "Trans fats reduce fertility"

Source: x-news / Dzień Dobry TVN

Worth knowing

The world is to be free of trans fats by 2023

According to WHO statistics, each year, trans fat causes the death of as many as half a million people in the world, mainly due to cardiovascular diseases. Fighting them has been recognized as a priority goal of the WHO, planned for the next 5 years (2022-2023).

A special recovery plan (REPLACE), which has been limited by the World He alth Organization to a few basic rules, will help in freeing humanity from excess of harmful trans fats, including: changes in regulations that would lead to a complete ban on the use of trans fats in food products, introducing pen alties / regulations enabling the enforcement of new rules on the content of trans fat in food.

Some countries around the world have already banned the use of oils that are a source of trans fats in food production. Denmark was a pioneer in this regard. The plans of the World He alth Organization were supported by the International Food and Bavarage Alliance (IFBA), which brings together, among others such concerns as Nestlé, PepsiCo, McDonald's and Mars.

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