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Trans fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid found mainly in industrialized foods that have undergone hydrogenation or baking. They are also found naturally in small amounts in milk and animal body fat.
Trans fatty acids increase the concentration of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood and decrease high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which are responsible for transporting “good cholesterol”, thus causing an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Trans fatty acids are formed in the hydrogenation process that is carried out on fats in order to solidify them, to use them in different foods. An example of this is the solidification of liquid vegetable oil for the manufacture of margarine. It also favors freshness, gives texture, and improves stability.
These fatty acids can be particularly dangerous for the heart and are associated with an increased risk of developing some cancers.
Hydrogenated fats are used in fast foods, commercial bakery products, processed and fried foods.
Trans fatty acids appear to increase the risk of coronary heart disease more than any other macronutrient. The American Heart Association sets a maximum trans fat intake at 2 grams per day on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Examples of where trans fats are found
Trans fats are mainly found in foods made industrially with vegetable oils, and a daily dose of 5 grams is considered dangerous. Here is a list of 10 foods high in this type of fat:
- French fries (150 g): .7 gr. of trans fats.
- Industrial bun (1 unit): 5-6 gr. of trans fats.
- Hamburger (200 gr.): 3 gr. of trans fats.
- Cheese (1 unit): 2.2-5.2 gr. of trans fats.
- Magdalena (1 unit): 1-2,1 gr. of trans fats.
- Cookies (2 units): 1.3 gr. of trans fats.
- Margarine (1 tablespoon): 0.9 gr. trans fat
- Commercial roll (1 unit): 0.85 gr. trans fat
- A chocolate bar (80 grams): 0.75 grams of trans fat.
- Cereal bar (1 unit): 0.4 g of trans fat
Summary of the consequence of its intake
- They increase the main risk factors linked to heart disease.
- They can cause fatty plaques to form in your veins and obstruct blood circulation, which can cause different cardiovascular diseases.
- They raise the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL).
- They affect the size of lipoproteins. The small and dense size of LDL is associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
- They reduce the ability of blood vessels to dilate. The vasodilator effect is beneficial because it increases the caliber of the blood vessels, allowing the blood to make less pressure against the walls of the vein as it passes.
- When this capacity is reduced (vasoconstriction) the blood flow has more difficulties circulating, which can cause a rise in pressure or a rupture of the blood vessel.
- They can worsen insulin metabolism and increase the risk of diabetes.
- Its intake increases the risk of suffering from depression.