Cholesterol Advice

Dangers Of Trans-Fat and Cholesterol For Health

Trans-fats (or trans-fatty acids) are compounds made from hydrogenation of oils. This chemical process stabilizes the hydro-carbon chain in oils which then don't break easily. This results in longer shelf life of the oil, a property which was immensely exploited by the processed food industry until recently.

Impact of Trans-Fat on Health
A series of studies in the last decade has highlighted that trans-fats are dangerous for health. While the process of hydrogenation increases the shelf life of the oil and products made out of it, it becomes difficult for the body to break down the extra hydrogen-carbon link in the molecules. Hence, those who eat foods containing trans-fats now face an increased risk of arteries blocked from trans-fat accumulation.

Trans-fats and Cholesterol
Studies have revealed that there is a direct link between trans-fats and cholesterol. They are instrumental in raising the levels of LDL cholesterol (which is a type of "bad" cholesterol) in your blood. The accumulation of LDL cholesterol in the arteries can lead to dangerous ailments such as atherosclerosis and other types of coronary heart diseases (including stroke).

Other Threats Posed by Trans-fats
Apart from raising the levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood, trans-fats also show a tendency to do the following:

* Increase levels of Lp (a) lipoprotein: Lipoproteins are complex organic compounds made from a combination of cholesterol and lipoprotein. Lp (a) is a type of LDL cholesterol and trans-fats play a role in elevating the levels of Lp (a) lipoprotein.

* Increasing levels of triglycerides: trans-fats are also responsible for increasing the levels of triglycerides in the body. triglycerides are a type of fat found in the body and higher levels of triglycerides may cause atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries).

* Increased inflammation: Inflammation is a process by which our body responds to injury. Inflammation is instrumental in the formation of fatty blockages in blood vessels. Trans-fats are instrumental in increasing inflammation. This results in increased risk of damage to blood vessel cell linings.

Source of Trans-fats
Trans-fats are primarily a human creation. Hence, they are mostly found in man-made foods such as processed foods. Till about a decade ago the market was full of foods containing high levels of trans-fats, an increased awareness of its health risk has forced both the administration and consumers to sit up and take notice of it. According to new regulations food processing companies are bound to show the levels of trans-fats and other similar details on the labels of their products.

What Should I Eat?
As indicated above, trans-fats are present in elevated levels in processed foods. Hence, unless the level of trans-fat in these foods is close to negligible, stay off them. Instead, you can go for foods in which other alternative oils have been used for processing.