How to Eat the Right Fats
Manufacturers try to overcome the instability of unsaturated fats through a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation involves chemically changing the structure of unsaturated fats by adding hydrogen molecules. When the unsaturated fat becomes saturated, it becomes solid, and is less likely to spoil. The resulting lipid is called trans fat. The most familiar form of trans fat is margarine, which is hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Our bodies have trouble metabolizing trans fat because they are unnatural and unfamiliar. Trans fats have been shown to increase blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Studies have also found strong links between trans fat consumption and cancer. There also seem to be connections to increased risks of infertility, diabetes, and liver damage. Recently there has been promising talk about banishing foods containing trans fats. Denmark, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have passed legislation restricting the use of trans fats. While the United States government has not yet enacted a ban, several local governments have taken the initiative. There was a lot of media attention when New York City placed restrictions on the use of trans fats in restaurants. Philadelphia, Chicago, and the state of California have passes similar restrictions.
These bans are an effort to safeguard the heath of the general population. Though the research can be confusing and difficult to decipher, one thing is clear; if government officials are feeling so compelled as to enact laws limiting its use, then the scientific findings regarding trans fats must be noteworthy. If there is a risk that these foods may have serious impacts on your health, then why take a chance?