Eating processed foods and bakery products containing trans fats or hydrogenated oils increase bad cholesterol levels and boosts the risk of heart diseases, one of the world’s leading causes of death. It may also increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.
The Sultanate of Oman in April banned the production, import or marketing of partially hydrogenated oils, and use of these oils in the manufacture of food products through the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources’s Decision No 83/2022. The decision stipulated a fine of RO 1,000 for violators in an attempt to create a healthier society.
In 2018, the WHO set a goal for the world to eliminate trans fats by 2023. There are 17 million deaths annually, resulting from cardiovascular diseases, which has been linked to foods containing saturated and trans fats, according to the World Health Organization.
The US Food and Drug Administration recently banned food companies from relying on trans fats as a main ingredient in their products.
Food manufacturers began adding this cheap alternative to animal fats in the 1950s. Hydrogenated fats can be used to make donuts taste better and extend the shelf life of foods, but they are also “silent killers.”
These fats are made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. This process turns the liquid into a solid fat when it reaches room temperature. When it first became popular, some nutritionists thought artificial fats were healthier than animal fats. However, soon studies proved otherwise.
Eating too much trans fat can cause you to gain weight. Staying at a healthy weight can reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease and other health problems. High LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol along with low HDL levels can cause cholesterol to build up in your arteries (blood vessels). This increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Dr Saleh bin Saif al Hinai, Senior Consultant, family medicine, said partially hydrogenated oils contain large amounts of artificial trans fats like most bakery products, margarine, coffee whiteners and snacks.
“There are side effects of partially hydrogenated oils, including raising low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and lowering good cholesterol, which may cause cardiovascular disease”.
Dr Al Hinai said, “The easiest way to avoid hydrogenated oils is to avoid processed foods. A person should consume whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, lean proteins and unsweetened dairy products as part of a regular diet.”