Over the past few years, the term trans fats has become more commonly known. When I first found out about them in 2002, I mentioned them to a few people only to receive strange looks like I was talking some other language. But fortunately the media caught on to this bad fat and has done the right thing in publicizing it.
For those that don’t know what a trans fat is, it’s basically an oxidized fat that along with refined carbohydrates, is a major cause of heart disease. Dr Ross Walker states that a 5% increase of trans fatty acids in the diet equates to roughly 95% increase in heart disease risk. Quite scary really. The most common sources are from artificially hydrogenated fats like margarine. These things should be enemy number 1 to anyone who values their health in any way.
Although up until recently, it was thought that some non hydrogenated vegetable oils were almost free of trans fats, or at least so low that it wasn’t an issue. But a recent study has disproven this theory.
I should also mention that I have never been a fan of any of these oils, as I really can’t believe that anything that needs chemical processing to be made, can be healthy for you. If you compare the process of getting oil from canola and compare it to the process they use to get olive oil. It’s a vastly different process. You can most likely find some videos displaying the process of both on youtube.
Most vegetable oils are far too high in polyunsaturated fats and omega 6, which we really don’t need much of. In fact, too much of any polyunsaturated oil will cause gastric distress. I recently had a client who asked about high levels of fish oils as they were recently on a diet that recommended a very high intake of fish oils. She suffered a lot of gastric distress, was advised that there was no way the fish oil could be doing this, but the symptoms disappeared as soon as the crazy levels of fish oils were ceased.
Back to the study. What they did, was take a look at oils like soy and canola for the content of trans fats. The results were that the oils studied contained between 0.56% and 4.2% trans fats. There is quite a big difference between the two figures, but at either end of the scale, I would consider to be unacceptable.
The best fats to include in your diet are ones that have minimal to no processing at all and are as close to the way nature intended. Oils and fats like coconut (which is obtained generally by an expeller), olive oil (cold pressing of olives), butter (which is churned cream at low temperatures) are all great ways to get fat into your diet. Also don’t panic about the saturated fats in some of these oils as there is not really any evidence to support those theories.