The year 2021, seems to have started on a healthy note at least for Indians. Conceding the demand that is being made by health experts in the country to cutdown the limit of trans fat in packaged foods and other sources of food including hydrogenated oils etc from 5% to 3%, India’s top food regulator Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a notification for the same.
Following this notification, trans fat in these food items is confined to 3% from January 1, 2021 and there is more to this good news. The authorities are also working on further reducing industrial trans fats in fats, oils and foods to 2 % by 2022.
Agree or disagree, junk food, processed and packaged ones with high volume of fats is a favourite of one and all but this high-fat diet is unfortunately the leading reason behind fatalities among adults.
A high-fat diet is commonly associated with weight gain and the root cause for a spectrum of health conditions, one such fat which is extremely unhealthy is trans-fat. This type of fat raises bad (LDL) cholesterol and also reduces the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol level. Excess intake of trans fat triggers cardiovascular diseases and other metabolic syndromes.
Read through this article to gain an insight into trans fat and how it affects health.
What Are Trans Fats?
Trans fats or trans-fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat that comes in both natural and artificial forms. Natural or ruminant trans fats are found in meat and dairy products, which are naturally formed when the bacteria in these animals consume and digest grass. Dairy products contain 2-6% of trans fat while meat cuts comprise 3-9%. However, studies have proven that non-vegetarians need not be worried as moderate intake of these fats is not harmful.
The best type of ruminant trans fat is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) found in dairy products that are valuable and also sold as a dietary supplement. However, the culprit is artificial trans fats also known as industrial trans fat or partially hydrogenated fat that are found in vegetable oils which are chemically modified to remain solid at room temperature. Partially hydrogenated oil is less likely to spoil, thus foods prepared with it have a longer shelf life.
Sources Of Trans Fat
Trans fat or partially hydrogenated oil are found in several food products including:
Baked products such as cakes, cookies, sweet rolls and pies
Solid fats such as margarine and shortening
Frozen foods such as pizza, ice cream, yoghurt, milkshakes and pudding
Deep-fried foods like French fries, doughnuts and fried chicken
Impact on Health
Our system does need or benefit from trans fats, these types of fats have a specific chemical structure, which the body finds difficult to metabolise. Some of the risk factors of consuming trans fat include:
Cardiovascular Disease Risk:
Replacing dietary fats with trans fats remarkably increases the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol that negatively affects the lipoproteins profile. While high levels of LDL along with low HDL levels can lead to cholesterol build up in the arteries, which elevates the risk for heart disease and stroke.
Weight Gain And Diabetes Risk:
Several high-fat foods like baked goods and deep-fried foods are laden with trans fat. Consuming excess amounts of trans fat can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance which eventually increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A diet high on trans fats increase inflammatory marker when switching other nutrients in the diet. Evidence has also revealed that excess inflammation is believed to be the main cause of several chronic diseases such as heart disease, immune dysfunction, diabetes and arthritis. Thus getting rid of trans fat from the diet is very essential
Recommended Allowance Of Dietary Fat
Recommended dietary allowance of fat as per the Indian council of medical research (ICMR)
A normal adult should not get more than 20-30% of fat from total calories.
Saturated Fat to be less than 7% of daily calories, while trans fat to be less than 1% of daily calories for a normal person with a 2000 calories diet per day.
As per the FSSAI’s new regulation the upper limit of adding trans fatty acid in packed foods should not be more than 3% by weight, effective from January 2021.
Importance of Reading Nutrition Label
All packaged foods have a nutrition label that provides information about the nutritional value and fat content in the particular food. Reading food label can help to maintain track of how much trans fat a person would eat and also a helpful step to minimise trans fat intake, however, the best option is to cut down the intake of processed foods out of the diet regimen completely. Remember to check the nutrition label for:
The total fat in 1 serving
Amount of trans fat in a serving
Look out for words partially hydrogenated in the list of content. If it does, then it means the food contains some amount of trans fat as low as 0.5 grams.
Hidden trans fat can easily add up to the fat content, particularly if you eat huge quantities of multiple foods containing less than 0.5 grams a serving.
How To Make Healthier Choices?
Substitute foods high in trans and saturated fats with foods that contain polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats. Some of the healthier options include:
Go for safflower or olive oil instead of butter, shortening and other solid fats.
Swap from solid margarine to soft margarine
Ask for the type of fats foods are prepared while eating out at restaurants.
Avoid fried, packaged and processed foods.
Choose from a lean source of meatReplace whole-fat dairy with low-fat or non-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese