Trans fat, especially that found in vegetable oils, can be harmful for your health. Therefore, it is important to learn about the effects of trans fat on the body.
How Is Trans Fat Made?
Trans fat is a byproduct of the hydrogenation of vegetable oil. This process involves combining vegetable oil with hydrogen. The aim of this process is to ensure that the oil does not spoil. In other words, vegetable oil is hydrogenated as a method of preservation.
Whenever this type of fat is added to foods, it keeps them from spoiling for a long time. In addition to the longer shelf life, foods that contain this fat are less greasy and remain fresh. To create trans fat in certain types of foods, hydrogen is added. This is where the problem arises. If hydrogen is added to oil, it increases the cholesterol levels of the body a lot quicker than other types of fat do.
Moreover, the hydrogen added to the oil is the reason it becomes difficult to digest. To make matters even worse, the body does not recognize trans fat as anything but saturated fat.
Which Types of Foods Contain Trans Fat?
Many types of foods contain trans fat. However, manufacturers are gradually trying to minimize such fats due to recent studies that show its harmful effects on the human body. Despite much negative publicity, however, the use of trans fat has not been entirely eliminated.
Fortunately, you don’t have to guess which foods contain this type of fat and which do not. Manufacturers are required to provide their ingredients and nutrition facts on the labels of most foods. Nutrition labels highlight the quantity of trans fat in the food.
However, keep in mind that the quantity of trans fat is often higher than it appears on the label. For instance, if a food contains less than half a gram of trans fat per serving, the label can state that the food contains zero grams of trans fat. Though a single serving of such food will not cause any harm, multiple servings will add up to significant amounts of trans fat.
Identifying Trans Fat
A simple method of identifying levels of trans fat in food is to look for the words “partially,” “completely,” and “fully” with respect to hydrogenation. If the label reads “partially hydrogenated,” the food contains trans fat. Perhaps counterintuitively, completely or fully hydrogenated items do not contain any trans fat.