Trans Fat Promotes Chronic Diseases.
Trans Fat Raises the Risk for Heart Diseases
Trans fat is food that sets the background for numerous chronic diseases. Its health risks and adverse effects range from obesity to diabetes, and from arthritis to ischemic stroke. Its notable adverse health effects on numerous organs and systems in the body makes it befitting to call trans fat a nemesis of good health. Another profile of this nemesis is that when one adverse health effect occurs other adverse consequences would follow. Thus, a cascading effect with incremental deterioration in health occurs. Some of its major health risks and adverse effects are profiled here.
The trans fats of concern are largely man-made because only trace amounts of naturally occurring fats are trans fats. The naturally occurring trans fat is found mainly in animals. Naturally occurring vegetable oils and plant-based fats do not usually contain trans tats. This important characteristic of plant-based oils and fats makes this source the preferred source of oils and fats for most health-conscious people.
Typically, trans fat is made by adding hydrogen (partial hydrogenation) to a vegetable oil to produce a small change in its molecular structure. Partially hydrogenation of a vegetable oil improves the commercial values of the products made with the oil. For example, trans fat improves the flavor and shelf-life of foods. These are commercially desirable properties, but good health is not supported by these changes.
Trans fat is found in a variety of processed foods. It is found in commercially fried and baked foods such as French fries, cookies, donuts, cakes, crackers, biscuits, pie crusts and potato chips. It is also found in non-baked foods such as margarine and salad dressings. The health risks of trans fats are magnified by their presence in a wide range of foods. The health-impairing potential is more alarming because of their insidious presence in some foods such as salad dressings and vegetable shortenings. For example, a quality oil, such as olive oil, can be partially hydrogenated and rendered hazardous to health. This dietary source of trans fat is insidious because some people may consume this shortening without realizing that they are exposing themselves to the nemesis of health. With regards to their presence in the salad dressings, the health-conscious, vegetable-consuming individuals are more likely to be exposed to the adverse effects of trans fat.
Impairment in Insulin Sensitivity
Trans fat is one of the foods that impairs insulin sensitivity. When insulin sensitivity is lowered your metabolism becomes sluggish and your ability to burn fat and other energy fuels become compromised. Your ability to regulate blood sugar can also be adversely affected. Obesity, type 2 diabetes and numerous other health problems can arise from impairment in insulin sensitivity.
Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis
In the presence of trans fats plasma level of bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein, LDL) goes up while the level of good cholesterol (high density lipoprotein, HDL) declines. Consequently, the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol (HDL/LDL) declines and raises the risk for cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels. Cholesterol deposit in the blood vessels is called atherosclerosis, the primary culprit for a common type of ischemic vascular disease (fixed angina pectoris).
Numerous nutritional and non-nutritional factors can cause or raise the risk for hypertension (high blood pressure). Trans fat is one of the nutritional factors that support hypertension. Hypertension is a common disease that leads to damage of major organs in the body such as the heart, the brain and the kidneys. It is also a common cause of morbidity and premature death.
Type 2 Diabetes
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are two of the most common adverse effects of trans fats. A primary underlying springboard for these two anomalies is impairment of insulin sensitivity. As insulin sensitivity declines, insulin becomes unable to adequately regulate blood glucose . Sustained elevation of blood glucose often results when blood glucose level is not properly managed. Type 2 diabetes can occur from this uncontrolled blood glucose. Type 2 diabetes is a dangerous and prevalent disease that can lead to other adverse health conditions such as blindness, loss of limbs, heart disease, morbidity, and premature death.
Ischemic Heart disease
Ischemic heart disease is a disease of the coronary blood vessels that result from impairment of oxygen supply to the heart muscle. Trans fat promotes the formation of atherosclerotic plaque which is the common cause of ischemic heart diseases. In the presence of ischemic heart disease blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked. Ischemia-induced functional impairment and possibly, death can occur if blood flow to a large 'region of the ventricular myocardium is severely or completely blocked.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Similar to ischemic heart disease, peripheral vascular disease is a common disease caused mainly by cholesterol deposits in the vascular walls. The arteries of the limbs, particularly the legs, are often affected. If the leg is affected, one may experience fatigue in the muscles of the hips, thighs, buttock and calf. Pain is often felt in these muscles during physical activities such as walking or jogging. Amputation of the limb may become necessary if the vascular occlusion is severe.