Of all the toxins in the food supply, “trans fats” are perhaps the most frequently overlooked. “Trans-fats” are typically thought to be “manufactured fats” produced by pushing hydrogen into vegetable oils to produce a solid fat, hence they are oftentimes called “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils. They’re hidden in all sorts of foods, including donuts, crackers, microwave dinners, and breakfast cereals.
And thanks to intentionally deceptive FDA-approved labeling laws, food products that contain sizable amounts of trans fats can still claim to be “trans fats free” right on their labels (this clever trick involves reducing serving sizes until the trans fat level drops to 0.5 grams per serving, at which point the FDA says you can “round down” to zero). So, if a serving size of 3 crackers has .45 grams of trans fats, then the crackers are labeled as “ZERO Trans Fats” … when in reality, if you eat 12 crackers, you just ingested 1.8 grams of trans fats. Sneaky eh?
Trans fats have been linked to increases in cancer, heart disease, and many other chronic degenerative disorders. You see, trans fats are actually toxic substances for our cell membranes and decrease oxygen absorption in the cells. Trans fats make the coronary arteries more rigid and contribute to the formation of blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Trans fats also reduce HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. So, please read labels carefully to avoid trans fats. If the ingredient list contains partially hydrogenated vegetable (soybean, corn, or canola) oil or vegetable shortening, the product contains trans fats.
But please remember that I’m talking about man-made (industrial) trans fats formed in the hydrogenation process. However, recent studies (published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition online December 28, 2011) show that the NATURAL trans fats found in organic, pasture-based animal meat and dairy products can actually help REDUCE the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. My family uses only extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, both of which are very healthy oils.