Trans fat, short for “trans fatty acids,” is a type of unsaturated fat that is found in small amounts in certain foods and can also be created through an industrial process called hydrogenation. Trans fats are known for their negative impact on health, particularly their association with an increased risk of heart disease.
Trans fats are formed when liquid oils are transformed into solid fats through a process called hydrogenation, which involves adding hydrogen atoms to unsaturated fats. This process can improve the texture, shelf life, and flavor stability of foods. As a result, trans fats were commonly used in processed and fried foods, baked goods, and margarines.
However, research has shown that consuming trans fats can have harmful effects on health, primarily by increasing levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. This can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
In response to the negative health implications of trans fats, many health organizations and regulatory bodies have taken steps to reduce their presence in the food supply. Some countries have implemented regulations that require food manufacturers to disclose the trans fat content on nutrition labels. Others have banned or severely limited the use of trans fats in processed foods.
As a result of these efforts, many food manufacturers have reformulated their products to eliminate or reduce trans fats. However, it’s still important to check ingredient labels for any presence of trans fats, which might still occur in some processed and packaged foods. Opting for foods that contain little to no trans fats and choosing healthier fats, such as unsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil, is recommended for maintaining heart health.