Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally and according to the World Health Organization, they take an estimated 17.9 million lives each year. The WHO points out that more than four out of five CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes, and as a cause for worry, the prevalence of heart diseases is on the rise. Dr Sashi K Srivastav, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad, shares, “Heart diseases are reaching alarming proportions even in developing countries like India. The major risk factors for heart disease include diabetes, hypertension, smoking, obesity, limited physical activity, and junk food consumption.” The doctor adds that among risk factors, increased consumption of foods containing high trans fat acids is one of the reasons for an increasing incidence of heart disease, particularly in the young.
Dangers Of Trans Fat
“Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fats that are made by partially hydrogenating them and turning them into solids. Some are found naturally in animal fat but most are prepared commercially and are harmful. Trans fats may be generated during the frying of food items also,” shares Dr Srivastav. He says that partially hydrogenated oils don’t easily become spoiled and can be reheated several times. Costing less than many solid animal fats, these partially hydrogenated oils are popular in the fast food industry and widely used in commercial baked goods like pastries, cookies, snack foods, and deep-fried food items made commercially.
Eating trans fats increases levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol that may damage arteries and lower HDL, or “good” cholesterol. It also promotes inflammation, an overactivity of the immune system that leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, and damage to blood vessels. “The World Health Organization, therefore, advises limiting trans fat intake to less than 1% of daily calories,” says Dr Srivastav.
Diet To Eliminate Trans Fat: Food To Avoid
Junk or processed food contains a high level of trans fat. “Foods like pastries, margarine, spreads, chips, crackers, cookies; processed foods like fried foods, onion rings, and nuggets; non-dairy creamer, pre-prepared cake frostings, commercially pre-prepared products, such as pie crusts, pizza dough, and cookie dough are some of the food items high in trans fat,” says Dr Srivastav.