There are many different kinds of fats in the foods we eat. Some fats are healthier than others, and we are always told to stay away from the unhealthy ones because they are bad for our health. Trans fat is one of these kinds of fat.
Trans fat, also called trans-fatty acids, is so bad for your health that some countries have banned it. But its use keeps growing, in part because of economic reasons. In Nigeria, it’s hard to avoid eating foods with trans fat.
What is trans fat, though, and why should you stay away from it? And what are some common foods in Nigeria that are high in trans fat?
Table of contents
What Is Trans Fat?
Fatty acids are what trans fats are made of. This is just a fancy way of saying that they are a part of a fat molecule. Some types of meat and dairy have very small amounts of trans fats that come from the food itself. Most trans fats, though, are made in a lab through a chemical process called hydrogenation. In short, hydrogenation changes oil that is liquid into fat that is solid.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol goes up when you eat trans fats. This effect makes coronary heart disease and death more likely. Trans fats may also hurt your health in other ways, such as by lowering your HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. When you add this to the fact that saturated fat makes LDL go up, the risk of coronary heart disease goes up even more.
Because of this, it is very important to limit or avoid trans fats as much as possible. You can do this by knowing what foods have trans fats so you can avoid them.
Trans Fat Foods In Nigeria
In this article, we will look at some Nigerian foods that are often high in trans fat.
1. Commercially Made Baked Goods
Not only is trans fat utilized in frying dishes, but it is also used in baking items, particularly when done commercially.
Cakes, cookies, and pies are among the items that use margarine derived from partially hydrogenated oil, primarily for commercial reasons.
2. Fried foods sold in stores
As previously stated, one of the primary reasons for the development of partially-hydrogenated oils is cost effectiveness.
This is why roadside restaurants and other commercial establishments employ them in their meal preparation because it saves money.
Most fried meals sold in stores, such as fried potatoes, fried treats like doughnuts and ‘puff-puff,’ fried beef, fried chicken, and others, are cooked with this sort of oil, which is extremely unhealthy for you.
You will never want to eat these meals again if you see the oil used to fry them.
Instead, try to create these things yourself or get them from reputable establishments.
Many people cook with margarine or spread it on toast and eat it, but how safe is it?
Some of the margarine you see is made from cooled and solidified PHOs.
This in no way makes it safe for eating. Instead, opt for alternatives such as butter for toast and pure venerable oil for cooking.
Other trans fat-containing foods in Nigeria include potato chips, pizza dough, mozzarella sticks, waffles, pancakes, and certain ice cream flavors.
How Much you can eat?
Trans fat is not required by your body. You should avoid it or consume as little of it as possible.
The following are guidelines from the American Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025:
- Fats shouldn’t make up more than 25 to 30 percent of your daily calories.
- You should make sure that less than 10% of your daily calories come from saturated fat.
- Use the nutrition facts labels to choose foods that don’t have trans fat as much as possible.
Trans fats are likely present in many typical meals today.
However, if you wish to reduce your intake of trans fats, you should read labels and verify ingredient lists before purchasing any food item.
In the nutritional label, look for partly hydrogenated oil.
Nonetheless, the best method to prevent trans fats is to limit your consumption of processed foods and fried fast meals and to strive for a diet high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein.