We have all heard it, "Trans fats are bad for you." There has been a highly publicized campaign against this particular nutrient over the past ten years. A campaign that has been relatively successful and that for the most part everyone has backed, which is often a rare occurrence when it comes to a topic such as nutrition. In fact many products in your local grocery store probably still boast about the product not containing trans fat. But while we all understand that Trans Fats are bad for us, few understand exactly why trans fats are bad and what exactly a trans fat is.
What Are Trans Fats?
Naturally occurring Trans fats exist in very small amounts, most of the trans fats in our foods have been synthesized by man. Trans fats are created by taking an unsaturated oil and partially hydrogenating them, which simply means adding hydrogen atoms to the oils chemical structure. This results in an oil that is solid at room temperature, but can be melted down to an oil substance.Although this process seems simple and harmless there is a negative side effect. Instead of this oil containing a cis double bond confirmation in it's chemical structure it now has a trans double bond confirmation meaning the hydrogen atoms are now on opposite sides of the double bond. This is not really a naturally occurring product in nature as the cis confirmation predominates in nature.
Why Do We Create Trans Fats?
Trans fats are a product of innovation in the food industry to make food more profitable. Hydrogenation of oils primarily benefits companies that use frying as their primary modality for cooking foods, such as McDonalds. By hydrogenating an oil into this solid, but meltable substance it can be reused many more times in a commercial fryer than unsaturated, un-hydrogenated oils. This means that companies can fry more food using less oil. Saving the company thousands of dollars in operating cost.
Why Are These Foods Bad For Us?
Essentially trans fats are bad for you because your body is unsure what to do with this odd unnatural substance. Our bodies do not contain the necessary compounds to properly metabolize these fats. Due to this these fats end up circulating through our bodies, coating our arteries, and raising our risk for a number of cardiovascular problems such as stroke, CAD, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.
Hope this short and quick explanation clears up any questions you had about what trans fats are and why they are bad for us.
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training