The Dangers of Trans Fatty Acids

The Dangers of Trans Fatty Acids

time icon 4 min read update icon Sept. 26, 2019

Recent studies have shown that Trans Fatty Acids play a huge role in the development and onset of Coronary Heart Disease.  Studies also show that these acids play a negative role in your cholesterol levels. 

To be on your guard about this issue, here are some things that you should know:

  • What are Trans Fatty Acids
  • What is Coronary Heart Disease
  • What Foods Fight Against These Issues
  • Other Ways to Help Prevent Heart Disease

What are Trans Fatty Acids?

We all know the dangers of saturated fat to our daily diets – they cause cholesterol levels to spike.  Conversely, unsaturated fat does not have a negative impact on cholesterol.  To combat the issue facing saturating fats, food manufacturers have begun “hydrogenating” these fats to make them more stable and less adverse to cholesterol levels.  Unfortunately, this process is what creates the Trans Fatty Acids.  When these acids are introduced into the diet, they attack things that are good for the heart and boost things that can cause heart disease.  Foods such as margarine, high-fat baked items (like doughnuts) and any food containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which makes up a large majority of all processed foods on the market.

What is Coronary Heart Disease?

In a nutshell, Coronary Heart Disease is the result of plaque buildup in major arteries of the heart.  This plaque is comprised of many things, including calcium, cholesterol and fat.  By clogging and narrowing the artery, blood flow is restricted.  Depending on the level of restriction, the risk of a heart attack may be very high.  This heart condition is the most common heart disease, and is the leading cause of death in the United States.  One of the most common symptoms of heart disease is chest pain.  You may also feel this pain extended into your arms, back and jaw.  Another common symptom is shortness of breath; this is the result of fluid buildup in the lungs. 

While many lifestyle changes, including exercise and better eating habits, can have a positive affect on treating and preventing the disease, more severe cases require medical procedures.  Doctors may prescribe medicines or in severe cases they may even have to perform an angioplasty or a bypass surgery.  Often patients who undergo these medical procedures will then have rehabilitation to help speed up their recovery.

What Foods Fight Against These Issues

By limiting your fat and oil intake, you can go a long way toward making healthy food choices for your heart.  Decreasing consumption of things like butter, cream sauce, gravy or margarine and replacing these things with more natural products like olive and canola oil, can greatly lower your daily intake of Trans Fatty Acids.  The same is true of proteins.  Opting for low fat dairy products or skinless meats, such as chicken means cutting out excess cholesterol-inducing products while still keeping the proteins that your body needs to maintain health.  Additionally, eating more naturally-occurring foods like fruits, vegetables and grains will help fill the gaps in your diet that were perhaps previously filled with processed foods and snacks.  Finally, cutting back on your salt intake can dramatically affect how much Trans Fatty acids you ingest throughout the day.

Other Ways to Help Prevent Heart Disease

Since food intake and Trans Fatty Acids are not the only way to develop heart disease, it is important to know what else can cause this issue and how to fight against it.  Smoking puts you at higher risk for heart disease, so it goes without saying that choosing to quit can go a long way toward promoting heart health.  Indeed, obesity plays a huge role in the disease’s development.  To combat this is simple: get out and get active!  Even just 30 minutes of brisk walking per day will help strengthen your body and make it healthier.  Alcohol and stress can also be factors of heart disease, so be sure to limit alcohol intake and take time to relax and let the stresses of life diminish.

Something that is a leading cause of death should be taken seriously, even if that means changing how you eat or dropping bad health habits. Replacing processed and “fast” foods with healthy options, such as fruits, grains and yummy veggies and adding exercising to your daily routine will keep you happy and healthy.

Sharp Seniors - Editorial Staff

This guide was originally published on Sharp Seniors. Grandfolk acquired in 2017 and restored it's content for readers.