Beware of the the “killer fats”

Cribbing that your 11-year-old is having an obscene amountof junk food from the latest fast food joint? Obesity might be your biggestnightmare. But hold on, there’s a bigger threat waiting for you in the wings.Not just present in fast food items, but in packaged & food items of thatamiable neighborhood street vendor as well, right from that mouth watering cholebhature to that sinful piece of jalebi, a new heath scare has been detected: Trans Fat.

Risk in chronic health diseases like heart attack &strokes are the biggest health hazards linked to trans fats. But a latest studyconducted by Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston saysthat intake of “Trans Fats” or the more apt “Hidden Fats” can reduce a woman’schance of conceiving up to 70%. And you don’t have to take a generous amount offood (containing trans fats) to see the effect. Eating a portion of chips on adaily basis can do it for you. In the study, the researchers looked at 18,500women trying to conceive, and found 438 cases of ovulatory problems. They alsosaw a 70 per cent increased risk of infertility in women who took two per centof their energy intake from trans fats, instead of carbohydrates or polyunsaturatedfats like sunflower oil.

That leads us to the discussion that how exactly do transfats originate? Liquid vegetable oils cannot withstand high temperatureswhile processing & hence become rotten. To rectify the error, scientistsbegan to “hydrogenate” liquid oils. That resulted in the formation of transfatty acids. So any packaged food that uses partially hydrogenated oil has someamount of trans fats. What’s more, they are cheap, recyclable, less likely to spoil & above all, taste well. This isthe case with packaged food. But in India, 80% of trans fats come from streetfood (Revealed by National report on Street food Survey) for which Vanaspati is the biggest source. Those flaky chips & crispy samosas are not that delicious just like that, they include an atrocious amount of the “killer fats”.

Moreover, you never know when you are exactly consuming the“killer” fats, because they are hardly mentioned in the ingredients column.World health Organization has put a cap of 5gms on per day consumption of trans fats, while the Food & Drug Administration claims that average consumptionof trans fats for an adult is 5.8gms approximately. Howerver, bakery products amount formaximum amount of trans fats, followed by animal & dairy products, ghee,vanaspati, fried food & the list seems endless.

Mohita Nagpal

Delhi, India