“One-quarter of the total baked cakes and puff pastries – or 19 out of 75 products – in the Consumer Council’s study were found to have exceeded the suggested daily consumption of trans fats by the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agricultural Organisation.”
This report from the Consumer Council that came out on June 17, comes at no surprise. With the majority of our food intake coming from processed foods or pre-prepared foods (meals that others prepare for us), we have little control and knowledge about exactly what we are eating.
What is Trans Fat and why is it bad?
Trans fat is a man-made saturated fat in which a food manufacturer takes an unsaturated fat (like corn oil) and uses a process called hydrogenation to make it into a saturated fat. It is the worst of all fats and the most artery-clogging of all.
Studies have linked consumption of trans fats to heart disease, inflammation, higher “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower “good” HDL cholesterol levels
“Lady M, a popular cake shop chain originally from New York, used up 27 per cent of the upper limit of trans fat recommended by the WHO….The naturally produced trans fat comes from dairy products including butter, vegetable oil and cream, which are the main ingredients of crafting mille crepes, says a spokeswoman” (SCMP).
What is naturally produced trans fat and is it harmful?
Natural trans fats are formed by bacteria in the stomach of cattle, sheep and goats. These trans fats make up 3–7% of the total fat in dairy products, such as milk and cheese, 3–10% in beef and lamb and just 0–2% in chicken and pork. ¹
Though evidence is limited, natural trans fats appear less harmful than artificial ones.² This is likely related to the fact that animal products also contain cholesterol, a saturated fat that also clogs arteries.
Scientists have discovered that trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are even more unhealthy than saturated fats. Not only do they increase the level of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in the body, but they also decrease HDLs—the “good” cholesterol.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death globally, and the number three cause in Hong Kong with cancer being number one. While cholesterol levels in Hong Kong are higher than those in the United States. ³
How do I avoid trans fat?
Limit your intake of trans fat
Limit your intake of cookies, cakes, biscuits, bread, pizza and even salad dressings especially when dining out.
Read both ingredient list and nutrition table
When shopping, read both ingredient list and nutrition table to understand what is in your foods.
According to Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety, manufacturer’s that have less than 0.3g of trans fat per 100g can claim ‘0’ trans fat on the product’s packaging.
Ingredients like ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ vegetable oils are warning signs, as is shortening and margarine.
Choose to cook more and cook with healthier oils
Try this trans-fat oil free cake that’s also gluten free, low carb and free from refined sugar.
Written By Denise Tam, Holistic Nutritionist