Saturated and trans fats

I had been following the lawsuit against Kentucky Fried Chicken for using trans fats in their cooking method. Lucky KFC is not our regular haunt. I can fry pretty mean chicken at home.

Last week, a consumer group sued KFC to try to get the company to stop frying its chicken in trans fats, and other fast-food chains have been pressured to lower such fats as well.

What exactly is trans fats? It is those hardened vegetable fats, like our margerine and vegetable shortening. A heart and lungs (cardiac thoraic) surgeon had written a very good book on healthy eating and I had read that those fats are even worse than butter, although butter is not that good either.

Trans fats, or trans fatty acids such as partially hydrogenated oils, are in many cookies, crackers, breads, cakes, French fries and other fried foods. They contribute to heart disease risk by raising LDL, or the bad cholesterol.

(quote sourced from USAToday)

More news from the UK

Some experts believe that trans fats are more damaging than saturated fats, and the Consumers’ Association has suggested cutting consumption of these fats could reduce UK heart disease deaths by 25 per cent a year.

Yet the problem for British consumers is that trans fats don’t have to be listed on ingredient labels, so it’s difficult to know which foods contain them. Little wonder they’ve become known as ‘stealth fats’.

Some trans fats occur naturally and are found in small amounts in meat and dairy products. But it is not these that are a cause for concern. The problem trans fats are the artificial ones found in a wide variety of processed foods.

These artificial trans fats are formed during a food process called hydrogenation, which turns liquid oil into solid fat.

During hydrogenation, vegetable oil is heated to very high temperatures and hydrogen is ‘bubbled’ through it, creating new chemical bonds which have a similar structure to plastic.

The result is hydrogenated vegetable oil, or hydrogenated fat. This is used in biscuits, cakes, pastry, margarine and processed foods to ensure they have a long shelf life and don’t melt too easily.

In some countries, such as Denmark and the US, trans fats have to be listed on food labels by law, but in the UK there is no such requirement.

The only way of finding out if a food contains trans fats is to look out for ‘hydrogenated vegetable oil’, ‘hydrogenated fat’ or ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (or fat)’.

(source from Daily Mail UK)

Since this is a food blog, I guess it is good that I take the opportunity of sourcing for healthy eating news and share them here. It will be a reminder to us all to watch out what we eat and if at all possible, to prepare our own home-cooked meals. Use less oil, more olive oil and avoid eating too much foods prepared with vegetable shortening/margerine.