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How Trans Fats Affect Blood Fats

Jonina Balabis
December 23, 2021
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You may hear about trans fats as the "bad" fats all the time, but not sure what exactly trans fats are. This article will introduce trans fats, common food sources and how they affect your blood fats.

What is Trans Fat?

Trans fat is made by partial hydrogenation (adding hydrogen) to unsaturated oils to give them a longer shelf life. However, it is common for the fats to change shape and form a “trans” double bond instead of a “cis” double bond during this process.

Trans fats have been proven to be harmful to human health and it is recommended that they are avoided completely. They increase your risk for many different diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Compared to saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, trans fat has the most harmful effects on the body. 

Common Food Sources of Trans Fats

Trans fat can be found in a lot of common foods:

  • Margarine
  • Cakes
  • Cookies 
  • Crackers 
  • Fried foods
  • Highly processed foods
  • Potato chips
  • Household shortening

What Happens When Eating Trans Fats?

  1. The body absorbs less healthy fat when trans fat is present: Trans fatty acids reduce the amount of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) in the blood. Studies also have shown that trans fatty acids compete with essential fatty acids for the same enzymes. This means that even if you are eating good fats as well as these fats, your body will absorb more trans fats than healthy fats.
  1. Affects fetal and newborn development: Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are involved in the development of a newborn’s central nervous system and eyesight. Trans fats can be found in breast milk and replace these EFA’s. If there are too many trans fats in the mother’s breast milk, there will be adverse outcomes in development. 
  1. The diabetes link: Studies have shown that trans fats can cause insulin resistance, meaning insulin is not able to transport glucose properly. This increases the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and or abdominal obesity. Trans fats can block the absorption sites that typically take in glucose, blocking the absorption of glucose. This causes sugars from your meal to remain floating around in the blood. This can lead to high blood sugar levels, and store this excess glucose as fat.

Summary

Trans fats are commonly found in many processed foods. It’s okay to have a treat every once in a while, but it is best to cut out foods high in trans fats as much as possible. Avoiding this type of fat is important for long-term health. 

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