Most people know that eating the wrong kind of fat can cause a heart attack.
But researchers from the University of Alberta have discovered even worse news attributable to trans fats and saturated fats -- they can also wreak havoc with the electricity in your heart, worsening the severity of heart attacks and increasing the risk of death.
They discovered that in addition to affecting the heart vessels, “bad” fats also affect the cells of the heart, causing an excessive build-up of calcium within the cells, and disrupting the rhythm of electricity flow in your heart.
Yet another reason to avoid trans fats like the plague!
Why You Should Avoid All Trans Fats
Trans fat (trans fatty acid) is an artery-clogging type of fat that forms when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening. But you’ll find it in lots of products, not just margarines and spreads. Some of the worst offenders include:
- Fried foods of all kinds (fried chicken, French fries)
- Ready-made baked goods (cookies, pastries)
- Chips and crackers
Additionally, don’t forget that lots of trans fat can hide in unexpected places, such as salad dressings and mayonnaise. If the label doesn’t specifically tell you the amount of trans fat included, look for shortening, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil in the list of ingredients. In fact, even if a label says zero grams of trans fat, and the product contains one of these ingredients, it still contains trans fats.
This is because food companies can “round down” if their product contains 0.5 grams of trans fat or less, and just call it “0.”
Of course, that is a per-serving measure, so if you eat more than one serving of a food that contains hydrogenated oils, you can be sure that you’re ingesting measurable amounts of trans fats. The higher up on the list these ingredients appear, the more trans fat it has.
Trans fat delivers a double-whammy of bad effects on your cardiovascular system, as it increases “bad” cholesterol (LDL), while lowering the “good” cholesterol (HDL). The exact opposite of what you really want …
In addition to the increased risk of heart disease, trans fat can also cause major clogging of your arteries and contribute to type 2 diabetes. And now we can add disruption of the electrical flow in your heart to the list as well.
What You Need to Know About Saturated Fat
Unfortunately, this study did not make any distinction between trans fat and saturated fat. Saturated fat is actually GOOD for you while trans fat is definitely not.
Part of the scientific confusion about saturated fats relates to the fact that your body is capable of synthesizing the saturated fatty acids that it needs from carbohydrates -- these saturated fatty acids are principally the same ones that are present in dietary fats of animal origin.
There is tremendous confusion about saturated fats as it has been unfairly demonized in the media and in the scientific literature. If you are still confused on this issue, please review this landmark article that explains how important saturated fats are for you.
For instance, one study found that diets high in trans fat (fried foods, processed foods, cookies, crackers, and pastries) reduced blood vessel function by 30 percent and lowered “good” cholesterol levels by about one-fifth, compared to a diet high in saturated fat (meat, butter, and some dairy products).
Researchers have also discovered that eating a diet high in saturated fats actually prevents coronary artery disease in postmenopausal women.
For an in-depth look at the various myths surrounding saturated fats, see The Truth About Saturated Fat.
There ARE Healthier Options!
You can easily eat a tasty, diverse, and healthy diet without including trans fats in the mix. Here's how:
- Instead of margarines and vegetable oil spreads, use butter. This healthy whole food has suffered a bad rap that is completely unwarranted.
- For cooking, I recommend using coconut oil, as it is far superior to any other cooking oil, and is loaded with health benefits.
- Following my nutrition plan will automatically reduce your trans fat intake, as it will teach you to focus on healthy whole foods instead of processed junk-food varieties.