Chips, cookies, potato wafers, cakes and pies. Sounds yum, right? Unfortunately, these tasty snacks are laced with unsaturated trans fats which can pose hazards to the health beyond imagination. Trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils so that these oils solidify at room temperature. This particular consistency like in margarine and vegetable shortenings helps to cook and give texture to fast foods, frostings, fried items and more. It increases the shelf life of processed foods and many eateries use it for deep frying purposes.Transfats naturally occur in dairy products and animal meat, but they are under permissible limits and do not pose extreme health threats. All countries are now imposing regulations on the use and limit of trans-fatty acids in food items.Trans fats increase the level of LDL(bad cholesterol) and decrease the level of HDL(good cholesterol). This increase in ratio attributes to a number of health issues like heart problems, obesity, diabetes, nerve disorders and other issues that we will discuss in detail.
The ratio of the increased difference in the good and the bad cholesterol has a very negative impact on the heart. Trans fats not only increase the levels of bad cholesterol but also minimize the good cholesterol in the body leading to an elevated risk of coronary diseases. And they also increase the blood levels of CRP(C- reactive protein). These two tests are performed to test the individual’s susceptibility to heart ailments. The government has become very aggressive now and is taking steps to remove items that are laced with transfats or they permit its consumption only if the levels are under permissible limits.
Though studies are ongoing in this regard, there have been links established to the consumption of trans fats and high risks of prostate cancer and breast cancers.
Eating fatty trans food items could expose people to the risk of Alzheimer’s. There have been reported cases of loss of memory and neurological defects. The part of the brain which is responsible for learning and remembering could suffer underdevelopment and the risk of this fatal disease could increase.
The increase in waistline is definite if there is too much of indulgence in fast foods and items containing trans fats. People experience weight gain though surprisingly the intake of calories is under control. It is the high-calorie diet which has always been linked to weight gain but trans fats independent to calorie intake, are responsible for extra fat deposition in the body.
With research still being carried out in this context, but there has been a close association of eating trans fat foods and type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Labels should be read before buying and trans fats should be replaced by monosaturated and poly saturated fats.
The liver contains an enzyme called delta 6 desaturase which performs the functions of converting essential fatty acids to arachidonic acid and prostaglandins, which are required for cell functions. The trans fats are known to hamper the functioning of this enzyme, as they are metabolized differently by the liver.
When the energy of the body is derived from trans fats as opposed to carbohydrates which are sources to supply energy, it could pose health issues. Women’s reproductive organs are at greater risk and infertility issues could arise.
Intake of trans-fatty acids can make people restless and irritable and lead to diminished memory power.