Trans fats are man-made or processed fats, which are made from a liquid oil, often soybean oil. When you add hydrogen to liquid vegetable oil and then add pressure, the result is a stiffer fat, like the fat found in a can of Crisco. Trans fats are also called hydrogenated fats. Because this fat is now stiffer, it is stable and can extend the shelf life of thousands of processed foods. Think of that French fry that you find under your car seat from last winter-it looks just like it came out of the drive thru.
Fats play an important role in the human body and affect almost every major organ, cell membrane production and immune system function. Natural fats are used by our cell membranes to communicate bodily functions. When our cells are fed man made trans fats this hardens the cell membrane making it nearly impossible for the cell to communicate bodily functions. One of the major functions of the cell it to process insulin, insulin is produced by the pancreas to help regulate blood sugar.
When the body fails to use insulin effectively it can lead to health problems like high cholesterol and high blood pressure, but primarily it produces Type 2 Diabetes. The incidence of insulin resistance also known as metabolic syndrome is growing in America.
The good news is that a diet of whole foods can reduce the chances of developing diabetes or insulin resistance. Science has yet to determine if there is any safe level of trans fat. Worse yet, the FDA allows labels of 0g trans fat on anything with .5g or less of trans fat per serving, so even if you are trying to be conscientious, you may end up eating a significant amount of trans fats. For this reason, in addition to looking at the nutritional facts, you should also look at the ingredients list. Anything that contains “partially hydrogenated”, or “hydrogenated” oil contains trans fat. Though it may only be a small amount, these fats add up quickly, and single servings are often quite a bit less than one would eat. STEAR CLEAR!