Margarine and other trans fats are very harmful to health, especially the heart and circulatory system.
The consequences for health are dire, as trans fats increase the “bad” cholesterol, raising blood pressure, can trigger serious problems for the heart.
But before explaining why margarine and other trans fats are so bad, it is necessary to define what trans fats are, where they come from, what makes them so harmful and what to do about them.
Margarine and other Trans Fats
Many mistakenly believe that margarine and other trans fats, being “vegetable derivatives”, are “healthier” than animal fats, but this belief is completely wrong.
When you look at the label on the packaging of margarine and other trans fats, you usually see that they contain “hydrogenated vegetable oils,” but what does that mean?
It is a liquid oil that has undergone an industrial process called “hydrogenation”, to convert it into solid fat, that is, if it were not for hydrogenation, both margarine and other trans fats would be simple vegetable oils.
In this process, hydrogen is added to these oils and the molecular structure is changed (that is why it is called “trans”), in order to achieve a vegetable fat with a texture similar to the natural one (like butter) and to avoid its rapid oxidation.
One of the apparent advantages of trans fats is that they are much cheaper than animal fats, and they keep very well for a long time, which is why they are so popular in food.
However, these trans fats are easily oxidized in the body, making their elimination very difficult. Vegetable oils are healthier because they are polyunsaturated, unlike animal fats that are saturated and increase the levels of so-called bad cholesterol known as LDL, but by processing vegetable oils at high temperatures and adding hydrogen, they become the worst type of saturated fat.
What foods contain trans fats?
- Margarines, butters, derivatives and products made with them
- French fries and other fried products
- Bakery and confectionery
- Ice cream
- Preprocessed Foods
- Some cereal bars
- Non-dairy spreadable creams
Health Consequences of Trans Fats
Since trans fats are very difficult to remove from the human body, the health consequences are dire. Among the diseases caused by the consumption of trans fats stand out:
Cardiovascular diseases, as a consequence of the increase in HDL / LDL cholesterol
Insulin resistance, with the onset of diabetes
Inflammation in the joints
Damage to the inner wall of blood vessels
Removal of trans fats
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that trans fats kill 500,000 people annually as a result of cardiovascular disease.
For this reason, it calls for the gradual elimination of trans fats in all foods over the next five years.
Unfortunately, in Spain there is no regulation on food product labels. For this reason, the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN), has called for the standardization of food packaging labels to show the trans fat content.
The regulation adds that the consumption of trans fats must always be below 1% of the daily calorie intake. This figure must be put into context, since an industrial croissant contains five grams of trans fat, which increases the chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease by 25%.
The World Health Organization issued a statement in May this year, which “indicates the steps to be taken to eliminate industrially produced trans fatty acids from the global food supply.
The U.S. FDA has already eliminated the use of trans fats in foods consumed in the country and this measure came into effect only last June. Similarly, it is expected that during the summer of this year, the European Union will definitively ban the consumption of trans fats.