When following a weight loss program or a healthy eating diet plan it can be confusing understanding what ingredients are in certain foods and what you need to avoid to learn the best ways to lose weight.
Trans fatty acids are an ingredient that should be avoided in large quantities when trying to live a healthy life, or when trying to lose weight or follow a weight loss plan.
Trans fatty acids are unsaturated fats that act like saturated fats. They occur naturally in foods such as meat and dairy in small amounts, and can also be formed or added to foods during manufacturing. Artificial Trans fats or hydrogenated fats are formed when oils are processed to make spreads such as margarine.
The World Health Organization recommends that no more than 1 per cent of our daily energy intake should come from Trans fats, as there is concrete evidence that these fats increase the bad cholesterol in our body – leading to illnesses such as heart disease. Trans fats may also trigger diabetes and infertility, this is why Canada is wanting to ban this artificial fat altogether. They were also the first country to bring in mandatory labelling. Trans fat labelling is also enforced in the US, Netherlands, Denmark, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and New York City, which has gone even further, banning Trans fats in restaurants and prepared foods.
Even though Trans fats are a major health concern, in Australia manufacturers are not required to declare them on food labels, instead they are only required to provide this information voluntarily. This just shows you how far behind we are in our food standards compared with other first world countries.
A leading Australian nutrition scientist, Professor Andrew Sinclair from Deakin University, has called for mandatory labelling in Australia of trans fat in food products. His findings indicate that some popular foods, many of which are being imported into Australia, such as buttered popcorn in movie theatres, wafer biscuits, and croissants and other bakery items, contain very high levels of trans fat. Certain popcorn brands reportedly contain between 6 and 8 grams of trans fat – about six times more than the “daily tolerable intake” in one serve alone.
The most common foods that contain Trans fats that you are likely to consume on a daily basis are items such as biscuits, cake, popcorn, ice-cream, doughnuts, pies, pastries, hot chips, cookies and pizza. If you regularly consume these foods you may easily be eating 2.5 times the amount of the recommended intake of Trans fats.
What to look for?
Check nutrition labels for words such as “partially hydrogenated” or “shortening,” and look for products listing zero Trans fat – as these may still contain 0.2 grams of the stuff per serving, which can all add up to a substantial amount.
Tips to limit Trans Fats in your diet:
- Avoid deep-fried fast foods and takeaways
- Limit manufactured biscuits, cakes and pies
- Cut the visible fat off meat and remove the skin from chicken
- Choose low-fat dairy foods
- Limit cream and butter.
Written by Elisha Danine – Nutritionist
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