Trans Fat: What is it?

It may seem a bit obvious, but we are being trained that instead of living healthier... we should ask a doctor for a drug.
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Trans Fat: What is it?

Postby dlcnurse » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:04 am

When it comes to fats, trans fat is considered by some physicians to be the worst of them all because of its double-barreled impact on your cholesterol levels. Unlike fat, trans fat, also called trans fatty acids, both raises your bad (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your good (HDL) cholesterol.

Initially, trans fats were thought to be a healthy alternative to animal fats becaused they are unsaturated and come primarily from plant oils, but numerous studies since 1990 have come to the conclusion that trans fats significantly increases risk for heart disease, the leading killer of men and women.

Trans fats comes from adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. Trans fats are more solid than oil, making them less likely to spoil. In the food industry, using trans fats helps foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel.

Commercial baked goods--such as crackers, cookies, and cakes, and many fried foods such as doughnuts and fries contain trans fats. Shortenings and margarines are also high in trans fats. Let me correct this as Healthy appetite pointed out, many of the shortenings and margarines have been remarketed to contain no trans fat.

Beware of the labels on foods-- trans fats less that 0.5 grams per serving can be listed as 0 grams trans fats on the label. Though that is a small amount of trans fat, multiple servings of foods with less than 0.5 grams, you could be comsuming more than the recommended limits.

How do you know whether food contains trans fat? Look for the words "partially hydrogenated" vegetable oil. Another term is 'Shortening". Shortening contains trans fats.. remember, trans fats make it more solid. Or "Hydrogenated" contains trans fats.

The terms of "fully hydrogenated" oils does not contain trans fats.
Small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in some meat and dairy products. It is the trans fats in processed foods that seem more harmful.

Trans fats have an unhealthy effect on cholesterol levels, increasing your LDL, and decreasing your HDL. For optimal health, LDL levels should be below 100 and HDL levels the higher the better. HDL has protective mechanisms that can decrease the chances for illness.

Trans fats also increase triglycerides. Triglyerides are another type of fat found in your blood. A high triglyceride level may contribute to hardening of the arteries, or thickening of the artery wall.

Trans fats also increase inflammation, which is a process by which your body responds to injury, It is thought that inflammation plays a key role in the formation of fatty blockages in heart blood vessels. Trans fats appear to damage the cell lining of blood vessels, leading to inflammation.

The good news is that trans fats are showing up less and less in food, especially food on grocery shelves. If you eat out alot, however, be aware that many restaurants continue to use trans fats.

How much trans fat you can consume without any negative impact on your cholesterol levels is debatable. However, according to the American Heart Association(AHA), and the Federal Drug Association (FDA), states that people need to limit the amount of trans fat in the diet for optimal health.

Don't think that a trans fat free food is automatically good for you. Many food manufacturers have begun substituting other ingredients such as tropical oils-coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils, these contain alot of "saturated" fats. Saturated fats raise your LDL cholesterol. A healthy diet includes some fat, but there's a limit.

In a healthy diet, the AHA recommends 30% or less of your total daily calories can come from fat. Saturated fat should only count for 10% or less of your daily calories (AHA recommends 7%). Monounsaturated fats found in olive, peanut, and canola oils is a much healthier choice.

Nuts, fish and other foods containing omega-3 acids are other good choices of choosing healthy foods. Reading the labels of the foods you buy can give you a good idea of what foods have trans fats... remember that most all processed foods contain trans fats.

Learn to read your food labels. It may mean that you spend more time buying your groceries but in the long run it is worth it to decrease your risk of illness and maintaining good health.
Last edited by dlcnurse on Fri Feb 16, 2007 1:25 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Healthy appetite » Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:14 pm

Shortenings and margarines are also high in trans fats.


Because of extreme consumer pressure most margarines now do not contain trans fats. I do not know enough about the ingredient lists to know how much healthier they are.

Even shortenings are changing. Crisco, the mother of all shortenings, has advertised that it has been completely reformatted to remove trans fats while still working the same in recipes. Again, I do not know enough to know if the current version of Crisco is healthy or not.
In a healthy diet, 30% or less of your total daily calories can come from fat.


True, but something most people do not realize is that fat is a necessary part of a healthy diet. At least 12% of daily calories should come from a healthy fat. Diets that try to totally eliminate fats are just as unhealthy as diets that try to eliminate carbs or proteins (or the myriad of other nutrients we need.)
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Postby dlcnurse » Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:39 am

The total amount of fat recommended by the American Heart Association should be 30% (65 grams of fat per day) With saturated fats of 10% (20 grams/day); for a healthy diet, the American Heart Association actually recommends 7% but several other studies indicate it should be 10-12%. Fats should NOT be eliminated from the diet. It is essential for your body to have some fat, fat is stored for energy and other processes in the body.

Let me give some examples:
Smart Balance Butter Spread
Serving size is 1 Tbsp
The total fat content is 9 grams which consists of saturated fats of 2.5grams, Polyunsaturated fats of 2.5 grams, and Monofats of 3.5 grams. On the label it states it is a non-hydrogenated product. But if you read the ingredient list it gives you that the oil blend is a combination of palm fruit, soybean, canola and olive oil.
If you put butter on a slice of bread and use the 1 Tbsp of this product you are consuming a total of 9 grams of fat. And 80 calories per Tbsp.

Another product:
Parkay Margarine
Serving Size is 1 Tbsp.
The total fat content is 10 grams which broken down is 2 grams of saturated fats, 3 grams of polyunsturated fats, Monounsaturated fats is 2.5 grams
In the ingredient list you will see "partially hydrogenated" soybean oil. Calories is 90

Crisco
Serving size is 1 Tbsp.
Total fat content is 14 grams
Amount of Saturated fat is 2 grams
Calories per 1 Tbsp is 120


Lets take a different food: cottage cheese 4% milk fat
In a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese you will find a total of 5 grams of fat, with 3 grams of saturated fat, carbohydrates of 5 grams. (total of fiber, sugars, and proteins). Calories is 110

Lets try another: Campbells Vegetable soup
Serving size 1 cup
Total fat content is 2.5 grams
Carbohydrate total is 7 grams (fiber, sugars, and proteins)
Cholesterol intake is 10 miligrams

If you look at the ingredient list you will find "hydrogenated soybean"
It is the terminology that you need to look at when looking at the labels; For example this soup has the term "Hydrogenated" that clues you into the trans fat content. My point is that you need to look for this type of wording when reading the nutritional labels/ingredient lists. When consuming trans fats or saturated fats, both will also increase cholesterol levels. (LDL)

For persons who have family histories of heart disease, or has heart disease, controlling cholesterol is essential. For persons with no heart disease, they should still watch their cholesterol levels. Persons who have already been diagnosed with heart disease and are on cholesterol and trigclycride lowering medications need to really consider lowering their fat content to the recommended limits of 30% of all fats, and 10% or less of saturated fat consumption. Salt content also plays a large role in those persons with heart disease, hypertension, renal disease etc.. and I will cover this topic in another post.

Eating food products that contain hydrogenated fats, increases the risk of elevating the bad type of cholesterol in the blood, which is the LDL. HDL is a good cholestrol and helps protect so foods that contain trans fats, actually will lower the good cholesterol, which is not a good thing because it puts you at risk by decreasing the protective abilities.

Knowing the different terminology will clue you in on how "healthy" the product actually is. Just noting that it contains "no trans fat" is not enough.

In a daily diet of healthy foods, you can easily obtain the recommended daily intake of fats per day. In just the items I listed above you are consuming 16 to 20 grams of fat. Which saturated fats are at least 11 grams of the total fat (30% is 65 grams of fat). In all the foods you eat, add up all the fat contain in all the foods that you eat in one day. This will give you a good idea of how much fat you are actually consuming in your daily diet.

Daily consumption of fat should be limited to 30% of the daily dietary intake per day in a healthy diet to prevent heart disease, breast cancer, and a number of other illnesses. Fat is essential in the daily diet for energy. If a person is extremely active and exercises as part of their daily routines, that person may need to consume a higher limit of fat intake such as 75 grams to 80 grams a day to meet their daily energy needs because they are burning off the amount of fats in there caloric intake for the day.

Talking with your doctor will help guide you on the specific fat content you need for your daily caloric intake based on your weight, age, health issues and the medications that you take.

You do not need to be dieting to maintain a healthy diet, with 20 grams of saturated fats, and a total of 65 grams ( 30%) of all fats per day. Which is a recommendation of the amounts of fats people should consume, according to the American Heart Association.
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Cholesterol Balance (Beta Sitosterol)

Postby Aronhog » Tue Aug 21, 2007 5:24 am

Beta Sitosterol, also known as Phytosterols, has shown efficacy in maintaining cholesterol levels that are already within a normal range when combined with a healthy calorie reduction and exercise program.
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Postby dlcnurse » Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:08 am

Phytosterols are widely found in the plant kingdom and are chemically similar to cholesterol. They are potentially arthrogenic like cholesterol. Studies done have seen some promise in decreases of cholesterol levels

These sterols are currently finding there way in functional foods such as margarines, spreads, and salad dressings. They are derived from soybean oil and are found in the form of fatty acid esters in those foods mentioned above.

The mechanism is not fully understood on how these phytosterols decrease cholesterol levels. They appear to inhibit the absorption of dietary cholesterol and the reabsorption of endogenous cholesterol from the gastrointestional tract.

Random studies have also found that these sterols also decrease the levels of Vitamin E, Alpha and Beta-carotine and lycopene in serum (blood levels).

It is generally well tolerated by most persons but can cause some GI disturbances such as indigestion, feelings of fullness, diarrhea and or constipation.

It also does come in a capsule form with dosages generally about 1 gram a day. The typical dietary intake ranges from 100 to 300 miligrams.

Their use looks promising but more studies will need to be done on the full effect that phytosterols have on the body over a period of time to give a definitive hands up on their use.
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