Trans fat acids, also known as trans fats or TFA, are unsaturated fats that behave like saturated fats in food. High intake of TFA can have negative consequences on your overall health including lowering your good (HDL) cholesterol levels, increasing your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, and increasing your risk of clogged arteries. This can lead to cardiovascular disease. Some studies also suggest an association between trans fats and sudden cardiac death and fatal colon and breast cancers.
Between 2007 and 2011, New York State implemented TFA restrictions in 11 counties to help improve residents’ health. Three years after implementation, there was a 6.2 percent reduction in hospital admissions for cardiovascular events, heart infarction, and stroke for people living in counties with the TFA restrictions (compared to counties with no restrictions). 6.2 percent may not sound like a lot, but the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (CDC) says that reducing trans-fat consumption by avoiding artificial trans-fat could prevent between 10,000–20,000 heart attacks and 3,000–7,000 coronary heart disease deaths each year.
The FDA removed artificial TFA from its “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS) list in June 2015. By June 2018, artificial TFA was banned from the U.S. food supply entirely. Be aware that products can be listed as “0 grams of trans fats” if they contain less than 0.5 grams per serving. However, low dose exposure can act in an additive manner to cause the same health problems as a higher dose intake over time. That is why I encourage you to read nutrition labels and avoid foods with hydrogenated oils, mono and diglycerides of fatty acids, monoglycerides, and diglycerides on the ingredient list. Classic examples of foods with mono and diglycerides are fudge bars and some peanut butter brands.
Small quantities of trans fats occur naturally in animal foods, such as milk and meat products. Artificial trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils (hydrogenation) to make the food more solid, especially at room temperature. Partially hydrogenated oils are used by food manufacturers to improve the texture, shelf life, and flavor of processed foods including cookies, crackers, fried potatoes, chips, cakes, frozen pies, baked goods, microwave popcorns, frozen pizza, margarine, fast food, coffee creamer, refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls), and ready-to-use frostings. Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry foods, because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers.
If you want to reduce your exposure to trans fats, try to eat as naturally as possible and prepare most of your foods from scratch. If you buy processed food, read the nutritional label and make sure the list of ingredients doesn’t include mono- or diglycerides or partially hydrogenated oils. Remember that even if the manufacturers advertise the product as trans-fat free, it could still contain small amounts.
Recipe of the Week: Zucchini Muffins
1 cup shredded zucchini (from 1 medium zucchini)
1/2 cup mashed banana (from 1 medium banana)
3/4 cup cashew butter (or almond butter)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with 10 muffin liners. You’re only making 10 muffins, so leave two liners out.
Squeeze shredded zucchini of excess moisture with a paper towel. In a large bowl, add zucchini, banana, cashew butter, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth and well combined.
Next add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients: coconut flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until combined.
Divide batter evenly between 10 muffin cups. Bake for 22-27 minute or until toothpick comes out clean and the tops of the muffins are just slightly golden brown. Makes 10 muffins.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Karen Ambrosio, OWS