There’s a new global plan that’s been established to help eliminate the most harmful ingredient from food supplies entirely. And if this ingredient was really THAT bad don’t you think we would’ve heard more about it by now?
Well the ingredient is trans fats, and I’m sure you have heard about it and honestly, you might even be more surprised that it’s still around given how bad it for our health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has shared a guide to eliminating trans fats from the global food supply by 2023. If their plan is successful, they predict it will help save as many as 10 million lives by 2023. Some countries in Europe, like Denmark since 2004, are way ahead of the game and have already eliminated trans fats from their food supply and the health benefits of this are astonishing.
What are trans fats?
To understand why the elimination of trans fats is so important, we need to first understand what exactly trans fats are and how they affect tour bodies. Trans fats, or trans-fatty acids, are a form of unsaturated fat. They can be natural or unnatural. Natural forms of trans fat can be found in meat and dairy and form naturally when animals digest grass.
These types of trans fats we don’t need to be as concerned about, but artificial trans fats are the real bad guys. These trans fats, known as hydrogenated oils, are formed when vegetable oils are chemically altered to give them a longer shelf life. These are much less expensive than animal fats which attract food makers which is why they have become so common. Trans fats are commonly found in margarine, doughnuts, commercial baked goods, and other snacks/fast foods (basically all our guilty pleasures).
There are numerous studies which show that consuming trans fats significantly increase LDL cholesterol (the bad type) and damage the inner lining of blood vessels. This increases your risk of heart disease. Furthermore, trans fats are linked to increasing inflammatory makers which are super harmful to your health. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know I’m super anti-inflammatory as it can negatively impact your health in a ton of different ways.
As stated before, Denmark became the first country to completely ban trans-fats in 2004, and since other countries have followed suits such as Austria, Iceland, and Switzerland. Based on numerous studies the ban has definitely been worth it! Three years after Denmark’s ban, researchers found that the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease declined by an average of 14.2 deaths per 100,000 people. The United States has taken steps to reduced trans-fat consumption, yet there are still improvements to be made. Notably, New York state restricted the use of trans fats in restaurants. One study found that cardiovascular-related death decreased by 4.5% since the ban and that hospitalizations due to heart attack and stroke declined by 6%.
Although WHO shared the regulations to reduce trans-fat consumption and eliminate it from the food supply in the future, the regulations are voluntary and not all countries will adopt them. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of ways you can limit your consumption of them on your own.
Read labels carefully: don’t eat foods with any partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredient list. But some processed foods try to be sneaky about it, like vegetable oils and don’t even label them on their ingredients list.
Avoid eating commercially baked foods, snack foods, and fast food (Trust me it can be tough but in the long run its so worth)
Avoid deep-fried foods as much as you can, even I can’t resist French fries every now and then.
Generally, your best bet to avoid trans fats it just to eat a whole food diet, free of processed foods (or just move to Denmark). This way you can reap all the nutritional benefits of foods while avoiding the harmful ingredients of processed foods. Hopefully by 2023 trans-fats will be nonexistent in the food industry so the entire world can reap the health benefits of avoiding them. Just remember to take everything in moderation. It might be hard to cut them out entirely now, but the fewer trans-fats you eat, the better!