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What are Trans Fatty Acids ?

Trans fatty acids are produced when a vegetable oil is hydrogenated. Hydrogenation is a process used by many manufacturers to make liquid oil more solid (as in the manufacturing of spreads). This process improves shelf life and the stability of many baked goods and processed foods. Unfortunately, the process of hydrogenation creates trans fatty acids. Studies suggest that trans fats raise LDL cholesterol and also lower our HDL cholesterol, increasing risk of heart disease. Some experts say that eating too much trans fats may be as bad or even worse than eating too much saturated fat.

The primary sources of trans fats in the North American diet are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils used in the production of shortenings and hydrogenated margarine. These are used extensively in food preparation. The foods most likely to contain trans fats are processed foods like chips, breakfast waffles, doughnuts, pastries, cookies, crackers, fast food products like deep-fried sandwiches and French fries. they are also in some margarine and spreads.

Having a trans-free diet is pretty difficult and probably not necessary, but reducing your intake of trans fats is very important. Read labels and look for the listing of trans fats on packaged foods. You can also find trans fats in foods by looking for the words "hydrogenated vegetable oils" or "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils" in the ingredient list.

The best advice regarding these fats is to limit your intake of deep-fried, processed fatty foods, and snack foods. Look for "nonhydrogenated" on the label and for processed foods made with nonhydrogenated oils. Use a margarine that is nonhydrogenated. It's also a good idea to go easy on the trans fats that kids eat, which means cutting back on a lot of high-fat snack foods. many manufacturers are now cutting trans fats from their products. It's almost impossible and probably unnecessary to avoid trans fats altogether but in this case, moderation is very important.

     
     

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