Trans fats are a group of dietary fatty acids. Excessive intake of fat can have adverse effects on us. The adverse effects given by trans fats are worse than those given by other fats. This is because of their unnatural molecular structure. As we all know, unsaturated fatty acids are beneficial for health. Usually, naturally occurring unsaturated fatty acid molecules have kinky configuration. During food processing, these kinky unsaturated fatty acids are converted into straight configuration which does not fit with the healthy condition of cells in our body.
Modification of natural fat to trans fat was introduced by a German chemist, Wilhelm Normann, in 1901. He carried out an experiment in which liquid fat was converted to semi-solid fat at room temperature. This product was later called trans fat. His method was adopted by food manufacturers to produce processed foods.
An example of well-known trans fat rich food is margarine which is widely used as a butter substitute. Margarine is made from animal oils and vegetable oils. During the manufacturing process, unsaturated fatty acids present in raw materials are converted to trans fat producing the final semi-solid fat. Unlike butter, margarine does not convert to liquid form at room temperature. This is the significant nature of trans fat.
There are also several other trans-fat-containing foods such as potato chips, cookies, crackers etc. Trans fat is also found in deep fried foods like french fries and fried chicken. Trans fat is also used for food preservation. It can be noticed that most of the trans-fat-containing foods are fast foods. This is one of the reasons why we should limit taking fast foods.
Dietary fats are essential for your body. However, your body does not need trans fat. There is no role for trans fat in the normal biological processes of your body. Taking trans fat will result in increased risk for health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity. Therefore, it is recommended that trans fat intake should be less than 1% of daily calorie intake.
As trans fats are enemies of our health, we should examine how much trans fat is present in a food before we eat it. We can check the percent of trans fat on the packaging of the foods. We should choose the foods carefully at the mart. We should avoid trans-fat-rich foods as much as possible.
Trans fats are metabolic poisons, aren’t they?