Trans Fat Alarm! 8 Harmful Foods to Watch
Healthy Living

Trans Fat Alarm! 8 Harmful Foods to Watch

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 27 Aug 2015 - 12:22


Transfat also known as trans fatty acid is a type of fat that is created when hydrogen is added to the chemical structure of a fat, normally vegetable oil. Transfat raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowers your HDL (good cholesterol).

Thanks to a directive by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA), hopefully this will lead experts in India to demand similar action. Indian snacks (puri, chole bhatura, aloo tikki, samosa) both packaged products and the ones being sold by roadside hawkers—are very fatty, and are believed to increase shelf life while making it more tasty. In India transfat is consumed in the form of Vanaspati, is cheaper and when used repeatedly for frying can be dangerous, as it introduces artificial transfats into the food.

The FDA has set up a 2018 deadline for food companies to extinguish trans fats from their products. However, they are fine in naturally occurring products like meat and cheese. A diet rich in trans fats can lead to chronic diseases such as:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Infertility
  • Obesity
  • Aggression
  • Depression

About 80 percent of transfat comes from street foods. Gram-for-gram, transfat is the most harmful fat found in a various types of food that include:

1)    Chole Bhatura:  An analysis from the Combative Cetre for Science and Environment (CSE) has revealed that your all-time favorite Chole Bhatura contains dangerous levels of trans fat and salt. Street hawkers use vanaspati ghee for frying and use the same oil repeatedly and that adds to the problem.

2)    Pani-puri: This Indian snack contains about 7.6% of trans fat, which is comparatively more than burgers, hot dogs and kebabs. The trans fat involved in this snack leads to serious health complications like fertility/reproductive harms and cancer. The presence of sugar and hydrogenated oil in pani-puris can further influence human body through leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite. Remember, your junk food is way more harmful than you think.

3)    Aloo Tikki: This is another snack that is a favorite of many people and is priced very reasonably because they use vanaspati oil. Aloo tikki is unhealthy food as it contains 7.5% of trans fat.  Dr Sujeet Jha, head of endocrinology department at Max Hospital, Saket, said unlike US where people are aware about their health, in India we are not careful about what we eat. "It is important to create awareness."

4)    Vada-pav:. Are you aware that it is not just the saturated fats that are responsible for cases of heart-attack? It is again the hydrogenated oil or trans fat that adversely affects your health. It also associated with weight gain, leading to many health problems.

5)    Fried foods: Deep fried foods such as, French fries, fried chicken and other traditional fried dishes contain trans fat from the oil used for cooking. French fries contain about 6.9 % of trans fat. Consuming chicken and mushrooms is not the problem, it is the added fat that comes with deep frying in oil, which is concerning.

If you are fond of having bhujia with tea, think twice. The CSE report says that a packet of Bingo potato chips contains 0.6g of trans-fats for a 100g serving, though the packet claims zero trans-fat.

6)    Baked Foods: Most of the baked items biscuits, doughnuts, cakes and cookies contain trans fat.  They are mainly used to increase the shelf life of a product.  Amongst all, nankhatai and khari  are very unhealthy as they contain large amounts of trans fat.

7)    Margarine: Margarine is made chiefly from vegetable oils and therefore contains unsaturated (good) fats that are mono and polyunsaturated fats which reduce LDL or bad cholesterol.  Butter is a better substitute for margarine as it contains more saturated fat. The stick variety of margarine contains 1.5 to 2.5 grams of trans fat per serving, which is really harmful.

8)    Saltine Crackers: Crackers is a shelf stable product and is quite possible that it contains trans fat. You may often misunderstand crackers to have zero grams of trans fat, but indeed companies often round 0.5 grams down to nil. Bonci says "Someone might look at a product and say, it has only half a gram, but that's just for one quarter of a fraction. If you're eating several more, its all quantity based."

FDA advises to choose food items with label that says “No Trans Fat” than with those mentioned as ‘Zero Trans Fat”, that’s because zero transfat may contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (PHO) in its ingredients. Moreover, a label that says zero transfat could be considering  the serving portion which may not contain transfat.

Here are a few steps eat and stay healthy:

  • Always use vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower oil or groundnut oil for cooking. Avoid cooking in vanaspati ghee as it contains high levels of trans fat
  • FDA suggests consuming less than 2 grams of trans fat in your daily diet.
  • Cut off completely on all junk foods that have more trans fat as compared to processed foods like biscuits, cakes, microwave plain popcorn and crunchy noodles.
  • Avoid ready-to-eat and frozen foods that are again trans fat loaded.

Trans fats will not benefit you in anyway. It will only worsen your health and lead to clogged arteries, diabetes, coronary heart disease and much more. So be watchful and eat healthy food, to stay healthy.


Reference: FDA cuts transfats in processed foods; Times of India



*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.