5 Health and Diet Risks of Transfats

What are transfats and how do they affect your diet and your health? Transfats are either mono- or poly-unsaturated fats with trans-isomer fatty acids. Although some transfats naturally exist in meat and dairy products, 90 percent or more of transfats consumed today are created by the food industry by hydrogenating unsaturated plant fats. The food industry discovered that by hydrogenating these unsaturated plant fats, they could create pleasant tasting fats with a long shelf life for very little cost. This led to transfats becoming widely used, and you can find them in many products. Margarine and shortening both contain high amounts of artificial transfats, and many processed foods contain hydrogenized oils.

For awhile these transfats were even considered to be a healthy alternative for animal fats due to transfats being unsaturated. However, these notions have changed drastically over time. Now it has become clear that transfats, and artificial transfats in particular, can be very harmful to both your diet and your health. Governments around the world are trying to reduce the amount of transfats used in products for human consumption.

Let’s take a look at five health and diet risks of transfats:

1.Heart Disease and Cholesterol

The number one reason why transfats are so detrimental to your health is the effect they have on your cholesterol levels. Like saturated fats, transfats raise your bad, or LDL, cholesterol levels. However, unlike saturated fat, transfat also reduce the levels of good, or HDL, cholesterol in your blood. It’s easy to see how this mechanism affects your LDL/HDL ratio badly from both sides. This effect on your cholesterol levels greatly increases your risk of heart disease. Studies have indicated that in the united states alone, 30,000 to as many as 100,000 people a year die of heart disease that can be linked to transfat consumption.

2. Stroke

Not only do transfats and their effect on your cholesterol levels increase your risk of heart disease, they also raise your chances of having a stroke. Research has shown a 30 percent increase of strokes among people with high transfat intake compared to people with low transfat consumption.

3. Diabetes

Studies have shown that transfat consumption will increase your risk of developing diabetes. Some of this is explained by transfat increasing your triglyceride levels and causing inflammation, which are risk factors for developing diabetes.

4. Other Linked Diseases

Although more research is necessary to confirm the relationship, transfat consumption has been linked to a wide range of illnesses. Among these are: cancer, liver dysfunction, infertility and Alzheimer’s disease.

5. Obesity and Empty Calories

Transfats are non essential fats that have no value whatsoever as building blocks for your body, while being loaded with calories. However, it’s not only the calories that put you at risk for gaining weight. A study with monkeys seems to suggest that transfats increase your weight gain and accumulation of belly fat even more than other fats do. The monkeys that were fed with the transfats had a weight increase of more than 7 percent, while the unsaturated fat fed monkeys were only less than 2 percent heavier.

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