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The Danger of Trans-Fat

What is trans-fat? How is it different other types of fat and how can we avoid consuming such food?

1 Pages
16 Aug 2018

In 2014, a total of 58,681 Thai people, or an average of 7 people per hour died cardiovascular diseases. There are many risk factors that associated with such diseases; one key factor is poor diet which can be resulted eating too much unhealthy fat or trans-fat.

          What is trans-fat? How is it different other types of fat and how can we avoid consuming such food? But first, let's get to know the different types of fat available in the market.

          Consuming saturated fat can results in increased levels of cholesterol in the blood. Saturated fat found in meat such as beef, pork, and chicken skin, butter, creams, cheese and other dairy products. In addition, it can be found in vegetable products for instance in coconut, coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter.

          The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturate fat intake no more than 5-6% of the total caloric intake consumed per day for patients has high blood cholesterol or suffered “Dyslipidemia”, consuming unsaturated fat or “good fat” can prevent you heart disease and coronary artery disease. Unsaturated fats are divided into two types, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are found in fish such as Salmon, Trout, Herring, Avocado, Olive, Walnut, as well as different type vegetable oils such as Soy bean oil, Safflower seed oil, Canola oil, Olive oil and Sunflower seed oil.

          Trans-fat or trans-unsaturated fatty acid (TFA) is a type of fat found in many processed or packaged food we may consume daily. There are two main sources of dietary trans-fat: naturally occurring trans- fat and artificial trans- fat. Artificial trans-fat is the one that we should be concerned as it elevated LDL cholesterol and increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.


do we find artificial trans-fat?

          Artificial trans-fat is often used in food manufacturers as It enhances food's shelf life. Food that contains artificial fats includes fried food such as Fried chicken, French fries, hamburgers, packaged snacks. It is recommended to avoid the food that contains the ingredients of shortening, margarine such as cookie, pies, puffs or snack bars. 

          Trans- fat is formed when liquid vegetable oil is converted to solid fat by a process called hydrogenation. This process involves adding hydrogen at double bond of the unsaturated fatty acid, which in turn making the oil more saturated. The primary source of Trans- fat in processed food is partially hydrogenated.

        Partially hydrogenated oil -Trans-fat is commonly used in the food industrial as it provides heat stability, longer shelf life without becoming rancid. Moreover, the taste is similar to animal fat but inexpensive. Food manufacturers often choose trans-fat to cook the meal as it can significantly reduce the cost especially in fast food manufacturers. 

          Research suggested that there is an associated link between Trans- fatty acids and enzyme "Cholesterol acyltranferase” This enzyme plays a key role in cholesterol metabolism. As a result when consuming a high dietary trans- fatty acid, it could increase LDL cholesterol levels (bad fats) decreased  HDL cholesterol level (good fats) which eventually can leads to cardiovascular diseases.

          In 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration has issued a preliminary announcement stating trans-fats are no longer  recognized as a safe dietary and everyone should try to avoid as it increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In addition to that, Manufacturers are required to specify the amount of Trans- fat on the product label. In June 2015, FDA has taken a serious action in removing trans-fat in processed food. The manufactures have three years to reformulate the process of making their food product. Denmark is the first country that introduce this policy and initiate the restricting the content of artificial trans-fat to 2 percent of the food supply. Manufacturers have cooperated with the policy with no hurdle, resulting in a 70 percent decreased in mortality rate cardiovascular disease.

          Reflecting back to our country, in Thailand, there is no regulation to control the use of trans- fat or food labeling as yet, however, now that we know what trans-fat can do to our health, we should avoid eating trans-fat food such as bakery (cake, croissant, cookies, donuts, muffins, puffs and pies).  It is recommended not to use margarine and change the frying and cooking oils every time you cook. Stay healthy, stay away artificial trans-fat.


Credit: Health Brings Wealth Magazine Issue: 12, Bangkok Association of Regenerative Health and The Study of Obesity

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