Shared by Dushyant Krishnan (founder-foodnetindia)
Fats are a necessary part of a healthy diet. However, some fats are toxic and create a massive epidemic of lifestyle disease in India. The biggest problem is with trans fats, which are toxic and cause, not just heart disease, but also stroke, and possibly a wide range of cancers.
What is Trans-fat?
Trans-fat is formed when healthy vegetable oils are ‘hydrogenated’ to form solids, and to also prevent them from becoming rancid. It is typically labelled as ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’ or “Vegetable fat” or “Vegetable Shortening” on food labels. Trans-fatty acids help to prolong shelf life of food, and hence are used in almost every food item.
Eating foods rich in trans-fats increases the amount of harmful LDL cholesterol in the body and reduce the amount of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Trans-fats create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancers and other chronic conditions. They contribute to insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Trans-fats are the most dangerous form of fat for the cardiovascular system. Researchers estimate that if trans-fats disappeared, the number of heart attacks worldwide would drop by 20 percent overnight. Disturbing new research also suggests that trans-fats may even be a major cause of obesity and cancers.
Which foods contain Trans-fat?
Earlier trans-fats were restricted to foods made with margarines and vanaspati ghee, but food manufacturers have started using these hydrogenated vegetable oils in almost every food product from bakery food to restaurant curries.
You will find trans-fats in cakes, breads, biscuits, chocolates, fried namkeens, fried street food like samosas, puris and jalebis, food in restaurants, and much more.
Small amount of trans-fat accounting for 0.5 percent of calories or less occurs naturally in dairy foods, and in meat, but those natural trans-fats are not seen as problematic. The problem is with the main source of trans-fat in most diets, which is partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Our opinion and advice
Many governments worldwide have taken steps to ban trans-fats from food. We believe that the scale of the health problems caused by trans-fat are much more in India than anywhere else in the world, especially because of the widespread use of Vanaspati Ghee in homes, street food and restaurants.
We urge the food regulator, the Government of India health, and food safety establishment at the highest levels, to immediately place a ban on vanaspati ghee, margarines and trans-fats in India.
People must avoid and boycott any foods made with vanaspati ghee or margarine. Do not eat any packaged food that contains any of the following in its ingredients lists :- ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’ or “Vegetable fat” or “Vegetable Shortening” or “Margarine” or “Vanaspati” or “Vanaspati Ghee”.