The reduction of hydrogenated fats within the diet it can help reduce the risk of various diseases but ... what are they? How do they work?
What are hydrogenated fats
There are two major types of "fats" in food: natural and artificial fats. Natural fats are those produced in some animals and in foods produced from these animals (for example, milk and meat products). On the other hand, i artificial fats such as hydrogenated ones are created through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
Why are hydrogenated fats so popular?
THE hydrogenated fats they are easy to use, cheap to manufacture and last a long time. Moreover, they can give food a taste and texture desired by the manufacturer, so much so that many restaurants and fast-food restaurants use hydrogenated fats to fry foods, given that they can be enjoyed on different cooking occasions.
In any case, also by virtue of the potential dangers to health, in some states there is a limitation on the use of these fats, and some leading international companies have also independently chosen to do without them.
Read also Types of dietary fats: what they are and what they are for
How can hydrogenated fats affect health?
Hydrogenated fats can increase the bad cholesterol levels (LDL) e lower good cholesterol levels (HDL). Eating fat increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It is also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Despite these dangers, hydrogenated fats have become very popular in cooking. The reason is mainly to be found in the fact that before the 90s very little was known about how fat could affect one's health. Only in more recent times has their use and consumption decreased.
What foods contain hydrogenated fats?
Hydrogenated fats can be found in many foods - such as many fried foods and baked goods including cakes, pies, cookies, frozen pizza, crackers, margarines, and other spreads. You can determine the amount of fat in a particular packaged food by looking at the package, looking for nutritional elements.
Beware, though: Often products that claim to have 0 grams of fat may actually contain small traces of it per serving.
Are there natural fats?
Small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in some meats and some dairy products, such as beef, lamb, and more. There have not been enough studies to determine whether these natural trans fats have the same negative effects on cholesterol levels as hydrogenated fats, i.e. those that have been industrially produced.
How to limit the use of hydrogenated fats
It is possible to independently limit the use of hydrogenated fats by taking the appropriate attention to check which are the nutritional elements of the foods you buy at the store. When eating out, in restaurants and other places, you can request foods based on the oil in which they are cooked. Replacing the hydrogenated fats in your diet with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats could help to ensure better health.
According to several researches, adults could derive an important benefit in terms of lowering LDL cholesterol by reducing their intake of hydrogenated fats and limiting the consumption of saturated fats to 5-6% of total calories.
To do this it is advisable:
- approach a dietary model that emphasizes fruit, vegetables, Whole grains, lean dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. It is also good to limit the consumption of red meat and sugary foods and drinks;
- more often use non-hydrogenated and natural vegetable oils, such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil;
- buy processed foods with non-hydrogenated oil rather than partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils or saturated fats,
- use light margarine or similar as a substitute for butter and choose soft margarines (liquid or in tubs) over harder ones. Always look for the "zero fat" nutritional label and the absence of hydrogenated oils in the list of ingredients;
- limit the frequency with which you eat donuts, cookies, crackers, muffins, cakes and other products that typically contain fats that are harmful to health;
- limit fried foods and baked goods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Not only are these foods very high in fat, but the fat is likely to be of hydrogenated origin as well.