Trans fatty acids in food

Trans fatty acids - a term that sounds little sympathetic to most people. But what exactly lies behind this food ingredient, know the least: Trans fatty acids are substances that are found especially in industrially produced food and indeed in such with hardened vegetable fats. They are found in almost all spreadable fats (especially margarine) and frying oil as well as ready meals and fast food products such as confectionery, dry soups, French fries, frozen pizza, breakfast cereals, sweet spreads, spray cream, puff pastry and potato chips.

Tips for shopping

When shopping, a glance at the ingredients list of the packaging reveals where trans fatty acids hide: they do not have to be declared in Germany under their name or the abbreviation TFA derived from the English (Trans Fatty Acids), but they appear under the description "hardened fats". or "vegetable fat, partially hardened" on.

In addition, trans fats are also produced on the domestic stove when frying (from 130 ° C) with vegetable oils that have a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids. And, of course, they are found in dairy products and in the meat of ruminants (beef, lamb), the effect of which - unlike the artificially created TFAs - does not appear to be harmful to humans.

Harmful effects

Scientists agree: foods high in trans fatty acids can affect our health. They increase the proportion of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and lower the level of HDL, ie protective cholesterol in the blood - and thus increase the risk of arteriosclerosis, coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Discussed, but not yet proven, are a negative impact on the sugar metabolism with the risk of diabetes and the increase in blood pressure, allergy and cancer risk. A 6-year American study on monkeys has shown that an increased intake of trans fatty acids with food not only leads to weight gain, but deposit the bacon pads especially in the abdominal region.

In the resulting "apple type", the risk of cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders (especially diabetes) is particularly high. The experimental animals also found elevated blood glucose levels. Even if the results are not readily transferable to humans, they are in keeping with the other research and findings on the subject.

Avoid trans fatty acids in the food

The recommended daily upper limit of trans fatty acids for adults is 2-3 grams. The expert committees such as the German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommend that trans fatty acids should provide less than one percent of the nutritional energy. Since the exact amounts recorded are difficult to determine, here are some general tips:

  • When shopping pay attention to the label and leave food with hardened fats better on the shelf.
  • Do not overheat vegetable oils; cold pressed, native oils are best not at all.
  • For hot roasting use highly heatable, refined oils (eg coconut fat).
  • Use as a spread butter or high-quality margarine.
  • Do not eat deep-fried, fried and fried foods as well as fast foods, ready meals, puff pastries, chips and sweets with glaze.
  • The best prevention is varied, fresh whole foods.
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