Many consumers by now may have known that trans fat can cause many health problems including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. But they do not know where the trans fat come from and how to avoid them. Trans fat in cooking oils can be a big time tissue.
Of course, trans fat is commonly used in processed foods. But trans fat can be everywhere even in processed foods that are claimed to be free of trans fat. Why?
This is because heat treatment or thermal processing or cooking process like frying and baking can convert the natural cis-fatty acids into trans- form fatty acids. Cis-fatty acids are not too bad until they get oxidized. Oxidized fatty acids can be very damaging. Once they get into your system, they can cause damage to cells and issues and their components.
Trans fat is known to not only increase the plasma level of bad cholesterol, but also lower the level o good cholesterol. So trans fat is even worse than saturated fat and the latter is known to increase bad cholesterol only. This is why trans fat is more harmful to the heart health. Harvard University estimates that in the United States, more than 100,000 deaths have something to do with intake of trans fat.
Trans fat has been found to increase risk of other health conditions including gastrointestinal disease, immune system damage, liver disorders, atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Trans fat increases risk of colon cancer, breast cancer and kidney cancer among others.
In addition to processed foods where trans fat can be added to improve the texture and mouth feel of the foods, vegetable oils such corn oil, soy bean oil, canola oil and other types of plant based cooking oils that are in liquid form can contain trans fat even before they are being cooked. This is because they are prepared; they are treated already with heat. During the processing or cooking process, the oil is subject to high heat, much of vegetable oils is converted to trans fat. But on the food label, the food manufacturer still claims that the foods are free of trans fat.
Some organizations and individuals promote use of animal fats like lard from cows and pigs, poultry oil, butter and palm oil as cooking oils. You should be aware that eating any of these fats in large amounts can also cause problems. Palm oil which is commonly used in recent years to replace trans fat has been found to have a bad impact on vascular health. Poultry oil is not as healthy as thought.
The safest way to use cooking oil is to restrict the amount to be used. Do not have your cooking oil subject to heat treatment. Frying can be a dangerous process. Many fast chain restaurants claim that they do not use partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or trans fat. But trans fat will be there anyway. This is so because as long as they use vegetable oils to fry foods, the non-hydrogenated frying oil can be converted to trans fat.
Home cooking like the Chinese style can be very dangerous too. Often, the Chinese pour vegetable oil onto very hot pan or wok and then put vegetables or meat and stir fry the foods. It smells wonderful because the cooking process destroys a lot of the natural stuff to generate a lot of volatiles that smell vegetable flavors and meat flavor etc. When you sense the smell, the damage has been done. Trans fat along with many other toxic chemicals have been formed in the cooking oils.
So if you can, do not use any cooking oil. Eat raw vegetables and fruits. This is particularly important to cancer patients. Studies show that trans fat increases the metastasis risk of colorectical cancer. If you have to cook some foods, cook them well done and then add seasoning and cooking oil only after the food cools down. (Staff at foodconsumer.org)