Trans Fats

A newspaper article last weekend talked about 'trans fats'. These are 'killer fats' that block your arteries, choking the heart and can knock you off in a single cardiac arrest. And all you need to do to build up these in your body is to eat food cooked in oils like vanaspati which are rich in trans fats, thrice or more times a week. And children are most at risk since they tend to eat out more often than other age groups.

The risks include diabetes, asthma, allergies, heart attacks and for the unfortunate, sudden death. The human body has no tolerance for this kind of fat and it gets deposited only as cholesterol in the body. The cholesterol levels in your body shoot up to alarming levels within 7-8 years. Cosmetically, these are the fats that cause you to get a paunch.

Kentucky Fried Chicken has already banned the use of trans fats in its US outlets. Denmark and Netherlands have regulations on their use. The WHO requires trans fat content in food to be less than 1%. But almost all food that you'd buy from outside contains anywhere between 3%-6% trans fats. And this includes biscuits, cakes, chips, French fries, samosas, paranthas etc.

The only way out, suggests the article is to use healthy vegetable oils like mustard oil or olive oil. And before buying anything, check the composition and nutritional information about the contents of the packet.

But how far can you go to keep healthy? How paranoid can you be in your quest for well-being? The inconvenience, not to mention the impracticality of some suggestions, will keep all but the most determined from keeping tabs on the oils being used at restaurants or the composition of a food product. Remember my post on hypochondria? This is what I was talking about. As if adulteration and chemicals weren't enough to be worried about, here is another damaging constituent to keep a look out for. You can only control so much of your diet.

I have learnt that moderation is the key. Too much or too little of anything, or so numerous studies show, is bad.

( Based on the article "Cut out killer fats from diet" by Amrita Singh from the Times of India, New Delhi edition, dated 5th November 2006 )

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