You only have to look at the number of diet programs available to realize that opinions on healthy eating and weight loss are extremely varied. Gather a bunch of dieticians, food experts, doctors and others in a room and though you may be able to get some agreement on some very basic dieting principles - that would be considered healthy too - but there would then be a number of diverging perspectives on the best diet for weight loss, health gains, or both. I do think that most, if not all of the professionals gathered would agree, that trans fats were one of the worst ingredients to ever be formulated, and that trans fats should be banned because of the dire health risks they pose.
Certainly notable experts like Marion Nestle and Michael Jacobson have been shrilling for years to get this ingredient out of processed foods (fried fast foods, cookies, pastries and crackers) and out of the American diet. Current labeling rules allow a company to still include a very small amount of trans fat, 0.5 grams or less, and to say on the label "zero trans fats." Experts still consider this a problem because if you eat a highly processed diet, you could be consuming several servings daily with so-called "zero trans fat," and actually be consuming up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per each serving of these foods. You do the math!! Those insidious amounts of trans fat accumulate and can seriously clog your arteries. They also cause inflammation and can ultimately break off as soft plaque and cause a major blockage of a vital artery to the heart or brain. So trans fat is still on the radar as a dangerous ingredient still present in our food chain. Don't just trust the nutritional label that shows the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Read the actual label ingredients and look for any "partially hydrogenated" fats.
An ongoing study in Spain recruited 8400 mostly college students to determine if "different types of fat affect our quality of life." Quality of life includes functional health, well-being and happiness. Participants completed an extensive questionnaire when they started the study, and then four years later they filled out an even more extensive questionnaire designed to specifically look at their quality of life. Consumption of trans fats appeared to be the singular dietary fat choice that was associated with impact on quality of life. Those who consumed the most trans fats on a regular basis reported a "poorer quality of life, including: feeling tired or worn out, having negative attitudes about work and social life, and having negative beliefs about the future of their health. To give you an idea of just how much trans fat was being consumed by the students, the students reporting "high consumption" were eating about 50% of the amount consumed by the average Spanish consumer, and 25% of the amount consumed by the average American consumer. So the impact might be even more substantial in "average consumers."
The Web MD review of the article quoted Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH as agreeing that trans fats are a marker of "poor dietary consumption," so it may not be the only ingredient contributing to this phenomenon. A lot of "lousy ingredients" are listed in the average highly processed food or fast food label. If you are eating a lot of trans fat, you are also probably eating a lot of processed and refined foods, salt, sugar and chemical ingredients.
What's the takeaway message? The old adage, we are what we eat can now be extended to suggest, "How we feel may be directly related to the predominant food and even chemical ingredients we are eating."
Published On: November 28, 2011