Tuesday, April 20

Today is the beginning of the end for trans fats

Nutritional policy is increasingly key in a society, ours, in which the risks derived from a poor diet are really high.

Countries like the United Kingdom incorporate laws that limit, for example, the consumption of salt, to reduce the diseases derived from an excess in the intake; and others, like Spain, They impose levies on sugary drinks.

Now, the European Union is taking a step forward in the quest to improve the health of the continent.

On Friday, April 2, it came into force European legislation limiting the use of trans fats (AGT) to a maximum of two grams per 100 grams of fat in food.

To date, there was only one European regulation that limited the amount of trans fatty acids in infant and follow-on formulas, which could not exceed 3% of the total fat content.

Furthermore, on the European continent only Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Iceland had a legal framework in place that required the industry to limit the amount of trans fats used in food products, which could not exceed 2% of the total.

Now, this is going to be a reality in our country as well.

It is undoubtedly a step forward in the nutritional policy of the continent.

Good news for our body because the consumption of so-called trans fats poses a clear health risk.

Why are we not interested in them? As pointed out by the graduate in Nutrition and Human Dietetics, an expert inI take care of myself eating in infant nutrition and nutrition in pregnancy, Ana Núñez, “are not good at a cardiovascular level since they increase LDL cholesterol, the commonly called bad cholesterol, and decrease HDL, the good one, affecting the quality of our lipid profile.”

Its impact on the arteries, the heart and our body in general, is very negative.

But there is more. Trans fatty acids increase insulin resistance since, after their absorption, they can be incorporated into the lipids of the cell membrane, affecting its physical properties and the coupling of enzymes to it, and can influence peripheral insulin sensitivity.

The harmful effects on our body are remarkable.

What are trans fats

The European Union now limits, before its total ban in 2023, this type of unsaturated fats that are present in both ultra processed products, as in industrial pastries and precooked dishes.

But where do they come from? What exactly are they? And why are they so harmful?

Trans fatty acids come from two different sources: «On the one hand, they occur naturally in cow’s milk and beef by an organic process of their microbiota, however, on the other hand, they are also obtained artificially by changing the chemical structure of fatty acids », indicates Núñez.

The Dr. Marisa Calle, member of the Nutrition Committee of the Spanish Heart Foundation (FEC) and professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the Complutense University of Madrid, delves into the fact that «approximately 5% of the total consumption of trans fatty acids that we ingest comes from the consumption of ruminant fat, through products such as butter , cream, cream, whole milk or fatty meat ».

But on the other hand we have that industrial source of generation of trans fatty acids that are produced artificially through a process called hydrogenation of vegetable oils that makes them more stable and able to last longer in our pantry.

The expert adds that “although some foods may have trans fat naturally and this is not always caused by technological processes, this type of fat is mainly found in processed products.”

“This type of unsaturated fat should not account for more than 1% of the total daily calories ingested,” says Ana Núñez. And he emphasizes: «It would be really simple if this did not happen. It would be enough to eliminate any processed product from our diet ».

The danger of trans fats for the heart

Scientific evidence shows that trans fats are the worst fats for cardiovascular health, increasing levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides, as well as lowering levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL).

«Once consumed, trans fatty acids are absorbed through the digestive system and pass into the blood. They are incorporated into the cell membranes and replace the fats that make up those membranes, which end up losing or diminishing their flexibility and fluidity. This means that other molecules, such as cholesterol, cannot bind to the membrane and remain free, thus increasing cholesterol levels in the blood, “explains Dr. Calle.

On the other hand, trans fats also increase blood triglyceride levels and this hypertriglyceridemia is independently associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Furthermore, it has been observed that trans fatty acids increase inflammation and inflammatory factors play an important role in the development of diabetes, atherosclerosis, plaque rupture, and sudden cardiac death.

It is for all this that health experts value very positively the entry into force of this new regulation that, “without a doubt, will benefit the health of the population.”


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