A high amount of bad cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol in the body is considered to be one of the key reasons for heart disease. LDL cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance that can get deposited on the wall of the arteries, leading to blockage. Consumption of foods that are high in trans fats and saturated fats can cause LDL cholesterol levels to rise.
Trans fats are unsaturated fatty acids that are solidified by a process called as hydrogenation. They are also known as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The hydrogenation process involves processing vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen to solidify it. Hydrogenation of an oil improves its shelf life, and it can be reused a large number of times. These oils are also known to enhance the taste and texture of food. Hydrogenated vegetable oils may be used to make foods like French fries, onion rings, potato chips, and bakery products. Trans fats are found in cooking fats such as lard and butter and also in margarine and some spreads.
Saturated fats are found in animal products such as red meat, egg yolk, poultry skin, and also in vegetable products such as coconut, coconut oil, palm, and palm oil. Saturated fats are also high in whole milk and products that are made of whole milk, like cheese and butter.
It is important to understand that not every fat is bad. There are also good fats or unsaturated fats. These fats are generally liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats can be beneficial to the health by reducing the levels of bad LDL cholesterol and increasing the levels of good HDL cholesterol. Unsaturated fats fall into two categories:
monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Soybean, sunflower, and corn oils are sources of high polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats are found in canola, olive, and peanut oils.
Some of these unsaturated fats also contain essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which can be beneficial to health. These essential fatty acids cannot be produced by the body and are only found in unsaturated fat sources like olive oil and some fish like salmon and trout.
Following are a couple of dietary changes that can help in reducing the intake of trans fats and saturated fats:
Avoiding the intake of foods that contain trans fats and saturated fats can greatly reduce the risk of a cardiovascular disease.