Trans Fats are evil, bad, unhealthy, heart maiming and artery destroying RIGHT? There are good ones and there are bad ones, so yes and no…… but you have not been told that have you?
Like most things, when scientists, medico’s and the written media get a hold of a story – they only tell you the bit they want you to know about, the bit that will scare you, and cynic that I am, the bit that will give them more control over what you eat, and how they can make money as well, that usually somehow figures into the equation.
There are manmade trans fats and there are natural trans fats – they are NOT equally as bad for you. It is something akin to the “all fat is bad” for you mantra we have all been indoctrinated with for so long, that people either shy away from good healthy fats all together, or use artificial, manmade substitutes like margarine and highly processed canola oil, in place of butter and coconut oil. Or worse still, spend their hard earned money on foods labelled ‘fat free’ or ‘fat reduced’, and some even have a RED TICK on the container which seduces you into believing they are good for you. You do know I presume that when they take the fat out of a food, it immediately looses its flavour, so they have to substitute something else to make you want to eat it again. That something usually contains sugar in some form or another. If not sugar then some other manmade and dangerous artificial chemical is added to it.
University of Alberta researcher Flora Wang found that a diet with enriched levels of trans vaccenic acid (VA) — a natural animal fat found in dairy and beef products — can reduce risk factors associated with heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
But wait – have we not all been told to avoid animal fat – usually found in dairy and beef products?
Results indicated this benefit was due in part to the ability of VA to reduce the production of chylomicrons — particles of fat and cholesterol that form in the small intestine following a meal and are rapidly processed throughout the body. The role of chylomicrons is increasingly viewed as a critical missing link in the understanding of conditions arising from metabolic disorders.
There has been much talk over the past few years about the dangers of Trans-Fats, and the need to avoid them where possible in a healthy diet.
The Bad Trans Fats
First, the bad Trans fats I’m referring to are the man-made kind. These are represented by any artificially hydrogenated oils. The main culprits are margarine, shortening, and partially hydrogenated oils that are in most processed foods, junk foods, and deep fried foods. These hydrogenated oils are highly processed using harsh chemical solvents like hexane (a component of gasoline), high heat, and pressure, have a metal catalyst added, and are then deodorized and bleached. A small % of the solvent is allowed to remain in the finished oil. This has now become more of an industrial oil rather than a food oil, but somehow the FDA still allows the food manufacturers to put this crap in our food at huge quantities, even with the well documented health dangers.
These hydrogenated oils cause inflammation inside of your body, which signals the deposition of cholesterol as a healing agent on artery walls. Hence, hydrogenated oil = inflammation = clogged arteries. You can see why heart disease has exploded since this has been loaded into our food supply over the last 5 to 6 decades. As time goes on, and science continues to unveil how deadly these oils really are, I feel that eventually they will be illegal and banned from use. The labelling laws were just the first step. In fact, certain countries around the world have already banned the use of hydrogenated oils in food manufacturing or at least set dates to faze them out for good.
However, keep in mind that as companies are starting to phase out the use of hydrogenated oils in processed foods, they are replacing them, in most instances, with highly refined polyunsaturated oils. These are still heavily processed oils using high heat, solvents, deodorizers, and bleaching agents. Even refined oils are known to produce inflammation in your body…a far cry from natural sources of healthy fats. Once again, for the best results, your best bet is avoiding highly processed foods altogether,r and choose whole, natural, minimally processed foods. Your body will thank you!
The Good Trans Fats
OK, after having trash talked the man-made Trans fats, let me clearly state that there IS such a thing as healthy natural Trans fats. Natural Trans fats are created in the stomachs of ruminant animals like cattle, sheep, goats, etc. and make their way into the fat stores of the animals. Therefore, the milk fat and the fat within the meat of these animals can provide natural healthy Trans fats. Natural Trans fats in your diet have been thought to have some potential benefit to aid in both muscle building and fat loss efforts. However, keep in mind that the quantity of healthy Trans fats in the meat and dairy of ruminant animals is greatly reduced by mass-production methods of farming and their grain and soy heavy diets. Meat and dairy from grass-fed, free-range animals always have much higher quantities of these beneficial fats.
Dr. John Briffa (I subscribe to his weekly newsletter) recently had this to say about the subject:
Actually, industrially produced and naturally occurring trans fats have different chemical structures: industrially-produced trans fats are predominantly monounsaturated trans fats of which something known as ‘elaidic acid’ is a major component. Trans fats found naturally in food, on the other hand, are mainly to be found in the form of very different fats known as ‘trans vaccenic acid’ and ‘conjugated linoleic acids’. Do these differences reflect on their impact on health?
This week saw the publication of a study that assessed the relationship between trans fats and heart disease in the form of a meta-analysis (lumping together of similar studies) . The authors of this study amassed evidence from eight studies. Higher total trans fat intake was associated with an increased risk of heart disease and risk of death from heart disease.
Taken separately, neither natural nor industrial trans fat was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of heart disease. However, the trends were for industrial trans fat to be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, while natural trans fat was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Taken as a whole, these results do point the finger of suspicion towards industrial trans fat, but away from those that are naturally occurring.
Previous evidence has also not found a link between naturally-occurring trans fat intake and enhanced risk of heart disease .
Overall, the evidence is consistent with the idea that food elements that have been in the diet a long time are going to be generally better for the body than new foods. Industrially produced Trans fats have been in the diet in meaningful amounts for a few decades. Naturally occurring Trans fats, on the other hand, have been in the diet forever.
Once again it is up to you the consumer to learn all you can about what is being foisted upon you – in the health news arena. There are always (at least) two sides to every discussion. Consuming moderate amounts of healthy fats will not be bad for you.
Personally, when I shop for my meat, lamb, steak, hamburger etc, I look for a piece that has nice fat attached, or through it. Today, everywhere you look the meat is listed as ‘Heart Healthy’ or some other advertising gimmick – what that really means is that it is tasteless! The fat has been bred out of it.
Want to know how to cook a perfect steak? Try here.