At the beginning of August, I wrote the first in a series of articles on FAT. In that article, I explained that I was breaking this topic down into a series of six articles:
The first article covered the basics on Fat, including defining fat, fatty acids, and types of fat. The next topic I’d like to cover is “Fats to avoid”. I decided to break this topic down into two separate articles, because quite frankly, trans fatty acids needs an article on it’s own. So my six article series has become seven !
What are Trans Fats?
In my first article, I explained that fats are divided into groups based on the types of bonds. Here is a quote from that article:
“Fatty acids are broken down further into 2 other groups, based on the chemical bonds between the carbon atoms in the chain. These bonds can either be single or double bonds. These bonds affect the properties and characteristics of the fatty acid.:
This information is important for understanding trans fats. All fats, are made of mainly hydrogen and carbon, with oxygen molecules at the end. The double bonds in NATURAL UFA’s contain hydrogen molecules on the same side of a double bond. This allows the fatty acid to be flexible and, therefore, liquid at room temperature:
HOWEVER, a trans fatty acid is CHEMICALLY ALTERED, so that the two hydrogen atoms are on opposite sides of the double bond:
This makes the trans fatty acid straight and rigid and SOLID at room temperature, similar to saturated fatty acids:
How are Trans Fats made?
While some trans fats occur naturally, in animal products, the VAST majority of trans fats are commercially produced, by chemically turning PUFA’s from their natural liquid state, into a solid (AKA: margarine/shortening).
Here’s the process (2):
Why you need to avoid Trans Fats…
You mean, aside from the fact that they are HIGHLY PROCESSED fats, made from chemicals and rancid, genetically modified oil?
Here are some other reasons, in case that’s not enough..
If Trans Fats are bad, then saturated fats must be bad too, right? WRONG!
We will be covering saturated fats in a future article in this series, but, suffice it to say, they have been unfairly vilified. To compare trans fats to saturated fats is like comparing apples to oranges. There is no comparison. Let me ask you this…Would you eat an apple, that had been chemically altered to look and taste like an orange, or would you just eat the real orange?
On the other hand, as stated above, trans fats are TOXIC, serve no purpose, and reek havoc on our bodies.
But, Trans Fats were outlawed and are no longer used…right? Um…Not exactly
In 2015, the Obama administration and the FDA issued a ban on PARTIALLY-HYDROGENATED OIL, giving the food industry 3 years to “phase them out”, so they are still a part of the food system. (4) Partially-hydrogenated oils have been banned, NOT fully hydrogenated oil. If you fully hydrogenate an oil, you COMPLETELY turn it into a saturated fat. In other words, you add the missing hydrogen molecules, and remove the double bonds. (6)
So, fully-hydrogenated oils are seen as “safer” because they do not technically contain trans-fats, however, keep in mind the HIGHLY PROCESSED nature of these fats, in combination with the rancid, genetically modified oil. Skip these chemically manufactured saturated fats, and eat the REAL thing!
The loop hole
So, you go to the store and pick up a pre-packaged dinner which says “ZERO TRANS FATS” on the label. Do you trust the label and does zero really mean zero?
ALWAYS read the ingredient label! ALWAYS! If there is ANY partially-hydrogenated oil in the ingredients, the product absolutely contains trans fats, even if it says “ZERO TRANS FAT” on the label (4)
Foods to avoid:
I go to my standard advice… eat a WHOLE FOOD DIET, and stay away from processed food. Here’s a chart showing the products highest in trans fats.