There are so many types of fats in foods that we eat. Some are healthier than others, and we are constantly advised to keep away from the unhealthy type of fat due to the many adverse health effects they have. One of such type of fat is trans fat.
Trans fat, or trans-fatty acids, is so unhealthy that its use is banned in some countries. But its use continues to spread, partly due to economic reasons, and in Nigeria, it is unlikely that you can avoid eating foods that contain trans fat.
But what is trans fat, and why should you avoid it? And what are some common trans fat foods in Nigeria?
What Is Trans Fat?
Trans fat is the name given to the kind of oil that is formed when hydrogen is added to regular vegetable oil. This causes the oil to become solid when it cools. Another name for trans fat is partially-hydrogenated oils (PHOs). Trans fats are also naturally-occurring in small amounts in animals like goats, sheep, and even poultry.
One reason why regular vegetable oil is turned into trans fat is that foods made with it do not spoil quickly, and the oil can be reused many times more than regular cooking oil. But this comes at a great expense.
Consuming foods that contain trans fat has been linked to an increase in LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the body. High levels of bad cholesterol in the body could lead to heart disease as well as other problems that you would ordinarily want to avoid.
In addition, consuming trans fats also lowers HDL, or “good,” cholesterol in the body.
That is why it is very important that you limit or totally avoid the consumption of trans fat, and this you can do by being aware of foods that contain trans fat so that you can avoid them.
In this article, we will be looking at some common trans fat foods here in Nigeria.
1. Commercial Fried Foods
As we noted above, part of the reason why partially-hydrogenated oils are created in the first place is that it is economical.
This is why roadside spots and other commercial places use them in making food because it saves costs.
Most of the fried foods you buy from outside, including fried potatoes, fried snacks like doughnuts and ‘puff-puff,’ fried meat, fried chicken, and more, are made using this type of oil, which is very unhealthy for you.
If you see the oil used in frying these foods, you will never want to eat them again.
Instead, you should try and make these foods by yourself or get them from places that have a high standard.
2. Commercial Baked Goods
Not only is trans fat used in frying foods but is also used to bake goods as well, especially when done on a commercial basis.
Cakes, cookies, and pies are some foods that are made using margarine that is obtained from partially-hydrogenated oil, again, mostly due to commercial reasons.
Many people use margarine for cooking or for spreading on bread and eating, but how safe is it?
Some of the margarine you see are made from PHOs that has cooled and solidified.
This does not make it safe for consumption in any way. Instead, go for alternatives like butter for eating bread and pure venerable oil for your cooking.
Other likely trans fat foods in Nigeria include potato chips, some pizza dough, mozzarella sticks, waffles, pancakes, and some ice cream flavours.
Many common foods around you today probably contain trans fats.
However, if you want minimize your consumption of trans fats, you should read labels and check ingredients lists of any food item you’re buying.
Check for partially hydrogenated oil in the nutritional label.
Nevertheless, the best way to avoid trans fats is to reduce your intake of processed foods and fried fast foods and to try to eat a diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein.
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