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Common Foods that Contain High Trans Fats; Know Why You Must Avoid Them

The article discusses two types of trans fats, common foods that contain trans fats, and FSSAI initiative to ban trans fats by 2022.

Shipra Singh
Popular Indian snack samosa
Popular Indian snack samosa

We all have heard a lot about trans fats and how they are bad for health. Doctors advise to stay away from them. According to doctors and dieticians, trans fats are the worst fats you can eat. Better to eat a spoonful of desi ghee every day than eat foods containing trans fats.

What trans fats do

Trans fats increase level of bad cholesterol – VLDL or Very Low Density Lipoprotein and LDL-c or Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol.

They decrease level of good cholesterol – HDL-c or High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol.

Doctors have linked trans fat to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and certain kinds of cancers.

Types of Trans fats

  • Natural

  • Artificial

Popular Indian sweet jalebi
Popular Indian sweet jalebi

Natural trans fat

Natural trans fat, also known as ruminant trans fat, is found in small amounts in dairy products and meat of ruminant animals like cows, cattle, and sheep. However, this kind of trans fat is not believed to be harmful.

Artificial trans fat

Artificial trans fat, also known as industrial trans fat, are produced synthetically in industries through a chemical process that involves thermal treatments or partial hydrogenation of edible oils having unsaturated fatty acids.

Two best examples of this kind of trans fat is:

  • One that is produced during refining of vegetable oils.

  • Other that is produced during deep frying.

These are the true health culprits, according to doctors. Such trans fats are present in huge amounts in vegetable oils that are partially hydrogenated. Examples are margarine, vanaspati, and bakery shortenings.

Common foods that contain artificial trans fats:

  • Almost all bakery products, including cakes, pastries, muffins, doughnuts, pizza base, biscuits, rusk, “patties,” and “fans”

  • Fried foods like pakodas, samosas, bhaturas, pooris, and many namkeens

  • Re-heated oils contain trans fats, although in a small amount.

  • Non-dairy coffee creamers

Did you eat a biscuit or a samosa or maybe a rusk today? Chances are high that you did. Most of us start our day with a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits or “fans” or rusk.

FSSAI initiative

Consuming industrial or artificial trans fat is hazardous to health. This is an established medical fact. Considering this, FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) plans to ban the use of synthetic trans fats by 2022. This regulatory body that comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, has deployed two-pronged strategies that will help to accomplish its set goal of “Freedom from Trans Fat@75.”

At the same time, FSSAI has a plan to regulate trans fat in processed foods and to motivate the edible oil industry and people doing food business to remove trans fat from their edible items. This may not happen all of a sudden, but can be successfully achieved in phases.

Mass media campaign of FSSAI

“Heart Attack Rewind” is a 30-second PSA (Public Service Announcement) launched by FSSAI as part of the mass media campaign to spread awareness of the hazards of trans fat to health.

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