What are trans fats?
Trans fats are modified molecules that appear in unsaturated (vegetable) oils and fats during repeated high-temperature processing. In minimal amounts, transisomers of fatty acids can also be found in nature, however, during frying and as a result of industrial processing of oils, their proportion can rise to a significant 20-50%.
Scientific studies talk about the dangers of trans fats for health, including their effect on the level of “bad” cholesterol. The regular consumption of even small doses of transgenic fats in food disrupts the normal functioning of the metabolism (increasing the need for Omega-3 ), provokes obesity, and also leads to the development of cardiovascular diseases¹.
In many countries of the world (starting from the USA and Europe, ending with Latin America), food producers are obliged to directly indicate the content of trans fats on the packaging. In addition, there is a recommended maximum daily intake of such fats - about 3-4 g per day. Exceeding this amount leads to a change in metabolism.
Where are trans fats contained?
Trans fats are found in any vegetable oil that has undergone secondary heating to high temperatures. In addition, trans fats can be formed in fatty foods and when reheated - for example, in a microwave oven. In simple words, a certain proportion of transgenic fats is found in almost any food, first cooked, then heated again.
Of particular danger is margarine and any food products containing it. It must be understood that for the manufacture of margarine, fats are required to undergo strong heating - even if there is only a small proportion of trans fats in the margarine, roasting it or heating food containing margarine dramatically increases the transformation process.
List of products with spenders:
- French fries
- any fried fast food
- margarine-based pastries
- chips crackers
The harm of trans fats
Note that harmful transgenic fats are a carcinogen, not a direct poison. They do not have instantaneous harm to health, but only gradually worsen the metabolism, provoking the development of various diseases and the emergence of various forms of cancer. In fact, you can eat them for years (and even decades) without the appearance of any clear symptoms.
Since it is the fatty acids that are used by the body to synthesize sex hormones, trans fats can lower testosterone in men and estrogen in women². Among other things, transgenic fats increase blood cholesterol and impair the synthesis of insulin in the body, causing the body to lay down calories in subcutaneous fat.
Trans fats: health hazard dose
Scientific studies suggest that harm to health and a change in human metabolism occur when trans fats are consumed in an amount of 2% of the total daily calorie intake . In terms of grams, this is equivalent to 3-4 g of transgenic fat per day - a tablespoon of margarine for baking or a small portion of french fries.
A large portion of french fries can contain up to 10-12 g of trans fats, fried chicken from CFS - about 5-7 g, one donut (donut) - 5 g, a small packet of chips - 3 g, a portion of breakfast cereal - 2 g³. Let us recall once again that in Russia there are no standards regulating the content of transgenic fats in products and in any way restricting their use.
Trans fats in products
The history of trans fats began with the search for a cheap substitute for butter. In 1901, a process was invented that made it possible to convert naturally- occurring palm oil into a solid substance by passing hydrogen bubbles through boiling oil. The final result of the search was margarine, widely used in the food industry.
In fact, it is on deeply refined vegetable oils that modern industrial production of food products is built. Such fats are cheap, tasteless and have a long shelf life, without requiring a refrigerator. The rejection of such fats requires a review of the process and significantly increases the price of food.
The content of trans fats in margarine
Until the moment when scientists officially recognized trans fats as unhealthy, soft margarine contained up to 10-20% of trans fats, and hard margarine for baking - up to 40%. Currently, Canada, the USA, the European Union and a number of other countries have set the upper limit for transgenic fats - not more than 2% of the total amount of fat in the product.
In the early 2010s, the regulatory authorities of the above countries insisted that the amount of trans fats in the products be measured and must be indicated on the packaging - just like the content of healthy omega-3 fats. However, these rules did not apply to Russia, China and most Asian countries, where it is not required to measure and indicate the content of trans fats in products.
Transgenic Fat in Fast Food
Since trans fats are found in margarine and in refined vegetable oil, they can be found in any product that includes these ingredients - from semi-finished products, various pastries and sweets (made on the basis of margarine), to french fries and other fast-food fried in vegetable oil.
Since, as we mentioned above, transgenic fats are able to form when reheated, even if frozen lasagna from the supermarket did not initially contain trans fats, then when they are warmed up they will appear in it - and the higher the heating temperature and its longer, the more dangerous transgenic fat you get.
Trans fats formed in oils during repeated high-temperature processing are carcinogens and can harm health and disrupt metabolism. Their content in products is legally limited in many countries, but not in Russia, China and Asia. Trans fats are found in margarine and in any food fried in refined vegetable oil.
- Trans fatty acids: effects on metabolic syndrome, heart disease and diabetes, Micha R, Mozaffarian D., Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, source
- Dorgan, JF, JT Judd, C. Longcope, C. Brown, A. Schatzkin, BA Clevidence, WS Campbell, PP Nair, C. Franz, L. Kahle, AND PR Taylor. Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: A controlled feeding study. Am J Clin Nutr, 64: 850-855, 1996
- Top 10 Foods With Trans Fats, source