India pledges to reduce trans-fat, but do you?3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Today, let’s talk about trans-fat. Trans fats, or trans-fatty acids, are a form of unsaturated fat that come in both natural and artificial forms, but it’s the latter that is most unsafe.
These fats are notoriously unhealthy and lead to all kinds of illnesses. Unfortunately, trans-fat is found in some our favourite foods – burgers, French fries, ice cream, chips – which is why we are told to eat these yummy things in moderation. This chart below lets us know which foods have high trans fat content.
So why are we talking about this? In a positive move towards limiting our intake of artificial trans-fat, India’s top food regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, has decided to cut down its levels significantly.
“India is committed to the elimination of industrial trans fats in fats/oils, and in foods containing fats/oils in a phased manner. The trans-fat content in fats and oils has already been limited to 5%, and the notification to further reduce it to 3% by 2021, and to 2% by 2022 is under process.”Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
The step to reduce trans-fat came after the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for global elimination of trans fats by 2023.
Industrial trans fats are toxic compounds that can lead to several diseases. These are formed during the hydrogenation of vegetable oils (adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid) to increase the shelf life of foods, and other processes such as heating of oil at high temperature.
An estimated 5,40,000 people die each year globally of cardiovascular diseases, and consumption of food laced with industrial trans fats is a contributing factor. In India, the number of deaths is around 60,000, according to government data. According to data available from 201, India has one of the highest burden of heart disease deaths due to high trans-fat intake of all countries in the world!
How to lower your trans-fat intake
According to Harvard University’s School of Public Health, these are some ways in which one can reduce the amount of artificial trans fat being consumed.
- 1. Read labels carefully and avoid foods with trans fats.
- 2. Avoid eating commercially prepared baked foods (including cookies, pies, and donuts), snack foods, and processed foods, including fast foods, unless you know they are trans-fat free.
- 3. When cooking, choose healthier oils such olive, canola, or another liquid vegetable oil.
- 4. When dining out, avoid deep-fried foods because some restaurants still use partially hydrogenated oils in their fryers.
Think with Owliver
What are some ways you can think of to reduce the amount of trans-fat you and your loved ones consume? Come up with a menu for the week where you include dishes or foods that are low on trans-fat. Let Owliver know what you come up with!
Sources: Hindustan Times, Economic Times, Medline Plus
Photos and GIFs: Giphy, Mayo Clinic, Big Stock