MINDFUL EATING - Trans Fats
In an effort to become more mindful about our health and lives, I thought we would spend a little time discussing unhealthy fats - a sometimes confusing topic for many.
So- called Trans fats are formed by a chemical process of adding hydrogen molecules to fatty acid strands forming what are sometimes labelled as partially hydrogenated oils (for those of us proficient at reading food labels). They are characterized by being more solid at room temperature giving the characteristic texture and taste particularly to snack foods like chips and crackers.
The reason they are so unhealthy is because they have been shown to increase LDL while decreasing HDL cholesterol. In contrast, saturated fats raise LDL while also raising HDL. Raising LDL has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Lowering HDL increase this risk even more. Foods that raise HDL levels tend to be protective against life threatening disease. To remember this, think of the “H” as “healthy” and the “L” as “lethal”.
So, other than taste, which we have been programmed to enjoy and become addicted to by the food industry, and convenience, there is no positive reason to eat food containing trans fats. In some localities, particularly Scandinavian countries, they have been regulated out of processed foods. In the US, trans fats have been determined to be unhealthy by regulatory bodies, but they still appear, particularly in processed snack foods and baked goods.
The best way to guard against this unhealthy substance - read and be mindful of food labels - not the ones one the front of the snack food boxes, but those in on the back. Even more, stick to natural, fresh and locally grown foods, and your heart will thank you!!
Dr. John Monaco