The Skinny on Trans Fat!

 

Trans fat. It can be assumed that not many people have heard about trans fat, at least in comparison to other saturated and unsaturated fats. This fatty acid is an essential part of the diet about which not much is known. It is critical for those trying to lose weight to understand this fat because replacing saturated fats unknowingly with trans fat could result in weight gain.You can't see it. You don't need a single milligram of it. And in fact, it is proven to be harmful to your health. The problem is that many foods still contain trans fat. So where can you find trans fat, and what can you do to avoid eating this unhealthy fat?


What exactly is a trans fat?


trans-fat-arrowTrans fat is produced when vegetable oils are "partially hydrogenated". This means that hydrogen is added to liquid oil at very high temperatures. The oil changes into a semi-solid fat. When used in processed foods, trans fat allows the food to stay fresh for a longer time. Some foods such as meat, milk, and butter naturally contain small amounts of trans fat.

Your body needs fat for many important functions. Therefore, healthy eating includes eating some fat. However, as fats and oils are high in calories portions should be small to prevent excess weight gain. Of greatest importance is the type of fat you choose. Saturated and trans fat may raise your risk of heart attack or stroke because they increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood. On the other hand, some unsaturated fats lower your risk because they lower the LDL cholesterol and maintain a protective level of “good” HDL cholesterol. Other unsaturated fats lower risk by lowering blood triglyceride fat and reducing excessive blood clotting.


Getting to know fat

Your body needs fat for many important functions. Therefore, healthy eating includes eating some fat. However, as fats and oils are high in calories portions should be small to prevent excess weight gain. Of greatest importance is the type of fat you choose. Saturated and trans fat may raise your risk of heart attack or stroke because they increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood. On the other hand, some unsaturated fats lower your risk because they lower the LDL cholesterol and maintain a protective level of “good” HDL cholesterol. Other unsaturated fats lower risk by lowering blood triglyceride fat and reducing excessive blood clotting.

Fats in foods are made up of 4 different types of fats - polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, saturated and trans. Trans fats are found naturally in some animal-based foods, but are also formed when liquid oils are made into semi-solid fats like shortening and hard margarine. Scientific evidence has shown that dietary saturated and trans fats can increase your risk of developing heart disease. You can reduce this risk by choosing healthier foods that contain little or no trans fat. Check the Nutrition Facts on food labels.

The words "partially hydrogenated" or "vegetable oil shortening" on the ingredient list mean that food has been made with trans fat.

The Good Fat – Unsaturated
All unsaturated fats are healthy. Replacing saturated and trans fat with unsaturated fats can help improve your cholesterol levels and lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. Unsaturated fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. All liquid vegetable oils, nuts and seeds are high in unsaturated fat. The omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fatty fish may also lower blood triglyceride levels and improve immune and inflammatory disorders. 

 

The Bad Fat – Saturated
Much of the fat in animal products is saturated. Fatty meats and high fat dairy products such as cheese are the main contributors of saturated fat in our Canadian diet. Plant sources of saturated fat include palm kernel and coconut oil, plus manufactured hydrogenated vegetable oils. These saturated fats are commonly used in processed and packaged foods. The different types of saturated fat are currently being studied closely to determine which pose the greatest risk for heart health. Dietary cholesterol is also present in animal products. Foods such as eggs and shrimp contain cholesterol, yet are low in saturated fat and therefore can be enjoyed in moderation.

The Ugly Fat – Trans
Trans fat is industrially produced when vegetable oils are partially hydrogenated. Trans fat not only increases your “bad” cholesterol but also decreases your “good” cholesterol, and is the most risky fat for heart disease. Trans fat may also increase blood vessel inflammation that increases risk for other chronic health problems. There are no known health benefits from industrially produced trans fat. Many Canadian food manufacturers are working to remove trans fats from their products.


Here's what you can do to minimize your intake of trans fat.
check-label

  • Buy foods which have zero trans fat, or which have the lowest amount of trans fat per serving as possible. You'll find the trans fat content listed in the Nutrition Facts table on the food package.
  • Check the ingredient list. Avoid eating foods that are made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening.
  • Load up on vegetables, fruit, and unprocessed whole grains. These foods contain no trans fat.
  • Steer clear of deep fried foods. When you eat out, order the grilled, steamed, broiled or baked menu items instead of the fried and deep-fried ones.
  • Cook from scratch as often as you can. Bake your own cakes, make your own muffins, and whip up your own pancakes instead of relying on prepackaged mixes.
  • Bake and cook with a soft, non-hydrogenated margarine instead of hard (stick) margarine, butter or partially hydrogenated shortening.
  • Get in the know. Some fast food restaurants now voluntarily list the nutrition information of their menu items. Go online to check out the fat and trans fat content of foods before you go to the restaurant.
  • Read nutrition labels. Choose leaner meat and lower fat milk to cut down on the overall amount of fat that you eat.
  • While Canadians have reduced their total fat intake over the last two decades, we are still consuming too much saturated and trans fat.

 

 

In Conclusion

 

Animal-based fats were once the only trans fats consumed, but by far the largest amount of trans fat consumed today is created by the processed food industry as a side effect of partially hydrogenating unsaturated plant fats (generally vegetable oils). These partially hydrogenated fats have displaced natural solid fats and liquid oils in many areas, the most notable ones being in the fast food, snack food, fried food, and baked goods industries. They can only be made by cooking with a very high heat, beyond the temperatures possible in a household kitchen.

Partially hydrogenated oils have been used in food for many reasons. Partial hydrogenation increases product shelf life and decreases refrigeration requirements. Many baked foods require semi-solid fats to suspend solids at room temperature; partially hydrogenated oils have the right consistency to replace animal fats such as butter and lard at lower cost. They are also an inexpensive alternative to other semi-solid oils such as palm oil.

Partially hydrogenated plant oils, and also non-hydrogenated plant shortenings made from naturally saturated palm oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oil, can be used to replace animal fats in foodstuffs for adherents to the dietary rules of Kashrut (kosher) and Halal, and for all vegetarians and vegans.

Foods containing artificial trans fats formed by partially hydrogenating plant fats may contain up to 45% trans fat compared to their total fat. Baking shortenings, in general, contain 30% trans fats compared to their total fats, whereas animal fats from ruminants such as butter contain up to 4%. Margarines not reformulated to reduce trans fats may contain up to 15% trans fat by weight.

Check the labelsIn Canada consumers can use food labels to monitor trans fat levels in the foods they eat because Canadian nutrition labelling regulations require that Calories and the content of 13 core nutrients, including trans fats, be listed on the labels of most pre- packaged foods. However, taking the trans fat out of foods would be an even better way of reducing consumption.

The Canadian task force recommended that within 4 years all vegetable oils and soft, spreadable (tub-type) margarines the trans fat content be limited by regulation to 2% of total fat content, and for all other food the total trans fat content be limited by regulation to 5% of total fat content.

Soon Canadians will be eating foods with little of no trans fats. Reduced risk for cardiovascular disease will be the long term reward.

Recipes by Gina - Recipe of the Moment


Mac & 4 Cheese with a Curry Crumb


mac cheeseWho doesn't love Mac & Cheese? Mac & Cheese is making a huge comeback on Canadian menus and is very profitable and easy to make. Just prepare ahead in individual serving dishes, heat and serve. The 4 cheeses in this recipe work well together, and the curry powder brings a wonderful and trendy twist to this classic old favourite. But don't stop there, try adding chicken, ham, even lobster for an upscale version of Mac & Cheese… as always be creative!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup shredded fortino cheese
  • 1/2 cup marscapone cheese
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the macaroni, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked through but still slightly firm, about 8 minutes. Drain well.
  • Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter starts to foam and bubble, stir in the flour; cook on medium heat until flour just begins to turn pale yellow, 3 to 4 minutes. Add thyme, cayenne pepper, and white pepper; cook and stir another minute, then whisk in 1 cup of milk until smooth. Pour in remaining milk and whisk again. Bring the sauce just to a simmer.
  • Stir in nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce, and salt; simmer on medium-low heat until thickened, about 8 minutes, whisking often. Turn heat off, then add Parmesan, fortino, marscapone and 1 1/4 cups of cheddar cheese; stir until combined. Add dijon mustard and stir again.
  • Transfer the macaroni into a casserole dish, then pour in the cheese sauce; stir to thoroughly combine sauce with pasta. Mix panko bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons melted butter, curry and garlic powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle crumbs on top of macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese on top.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until bread crumbs and cheddar cheese topping are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

recipe footer