We’ve all heard that trans fats are bad for our bodies, but a recent study by Spanish researchers found that they can affect our brains too! Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are mostly man-made in a process that puts hydrogen in vegetable oil and then mixes in zinc and copper to make them more solid. The grey matter that results is then bleached to make it more appealing. This process keeps food from spoiling for longer, but it creates the worst fat for the heart, blood vessels, and the rest of the body according to Harvard University. Trans fats are also called “partially hydrogenated oils" and you can still find them in many foods, unfortunately.
Products like pre-packaged pastries, crackers, french-fries, cookies, and processed foods contain trans-fats. There was a time when 100% of crackers and 95% of prepared cookies contained trans-fats. Many companies have started using alternatives, but it’s still important to check the labels. Surprisingly, margarine, which is low in calories, is one of the worst sources of trans-fats still out there. Even a small amount of these trans fatty acids can immediately fog your brain. Taking any in makes you 48% more likely to experience depression, according to a six-year study. Trans fats have also been linked to a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, they have been shown to adversely affect learning ability, which should make you think twice about children eating French fries in the cafeteria everyday. Finally, eliminating trans-fats altogether would keep 1 in 5 heart attacksfrom ever occurring.
Apparently a longer shelf life for our food means a shorter shelf life for us. There are still many tests being run, but the safest bet at this point is to lay off the trans fats for your body and your mind. Actually, there are many fats that are beneficial to your body. Eating foods like avocados, nuts and olive oil, which contain unsaturated fats, can keep you from feeling depressed and they can help lower bad cholesterol. Life is too precious to risk for a bland treat. I encourage you to eat what you want, but satisfy your cravings at home when you can and read labels carefully when you can’t. You deserve the best in everything and the dollar menu is not “the best” of anything.