Trans-fat and Hypertension
Trans-fat and Hypertension
Globally, trans fat intake results in more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular disease every year. Trans fat is also a reason for increased risk of cardiovascular diseases which is the biggest cause of death around the world. In India, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases are the most important risk factors for chronic disease burden Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) have now become the leading cause of mortality in India. A quarter of all mortality is attributable to CVD. Ischemic heart disease and stroke are the predominant causes and are responsible for more than 80% of CVD deaths. (Source: American Heart Association)
What is trans-fat?
Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid, thereby increasing the shelf life of foods. Trans-fats are largely present in vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortenings, and can be found in baked and fried foods.
Pic Credit : Ashita Sharma (Volunteer)
There are basically two forms of trans-fats: Natural and artificial forms
Natural trans-fats occur in meat and dairy products and these are not considered to be harmful.
Artificial trans-fats or trans fatty acids is formed through industrial process by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil making the oil solid at room temperature.Food companies often use tans-fats, an inexpensive method, to enhance the taste and increase the shelf life. But this is considered dangerous for the health.These trans-fats are considered hazardous to our health. Eating these trans-fats increased bad (LDL) Cholesterol and reduces good (HDL) Cholesterol.
Foods that contain trans fat
Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) are the main source of industrially-produced trans fats. These oils are most frequently found in – baked and fried foods – prepared or pre-packaged snacks – fried street and restaurant foods. Heating and frying oil at high temperatures leads to modest increases by 3.67 g/100g and by 3.57 g/100g respectively while there is no evidence that other cooking methods, e.g., baking, boiling and grilling, lead to increased trans fats concentrations.
As per WHO, at present India has been reported to contain 6%-30% of Trans fats which is much beyond the recommended limit of 2%. A survey of street food in India (Delhi and Haryana) found that 25% of snack foods had levels of TFA more than recommended intake. Commonly consumed deep fried sweets in India (samosa, gulab jamun, jalebi) prepared with vanaspati are reported to contain up to 50% of fat as TFA. More than 60,000 deaths approximately, were attributable to high trans-fat intake in India in 2010.
As per Draft Notifications of FSSAI, the Indian Food Safety Regulator, limit of trans fats in the fats / oils will be not more than 3% by weight on and from January 01, 2021 and not more than 2% by weight on and from January 01, 2022. On and from January 01, 2022, food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient shall not contain trans fats more than 2% by weight of the total fats / oils present in the product. Consumer VOICE is focusing on these Draft Notifications of FSSAI to generate awareness on trans fats.
VOICE has taken the initiative to spread awareness regarding hypertension and cardiovascular disease for the interest of public health. The overall aim of this campaign is to spread awareness among the public and stakeholders about the risks of trans-fat, hypertension, and overallcardiovascular disease prevention in India and adoption of 2% trans-fat limit in oils, fats and food items in India. VOICE has adopted multipronged strategy which include sensitizing media and public at large, engaging with Industry and Industry Associations involved in producing oils, fats and food items, working with food regulators to prioritise implementing trans-fats regulations in food items.
Sensitizing the media and people on the ill effects of trans-fats and prevailing FSSAI’s current regulations and overall goal of making it less than 2% in 2020.
- Ensuring implementation of FSSAI regulations by industry producing oil and food products
- Creating resources to spread awareness on trans fats through case studies, best practices, research backed articles and various communication materials
- VOICE plans to hold workshops involving media and other stakeholders such as industry, regulators, nutrition and health specialist and use the social media to reach out to the people and create a favourable environment for adoption of 2% trans-fats by 2020 and further its complete removal in the near future.
Trans-fats free logo
In order to eliminate industrial trans-fat, FSSAI has recently introduced a Trans-fats free logo to be used by bakeries, sweet shops, food outlets and other food business operators preparing or dealing in food items produced from oils and fats by not using industrial fats more than 0.2g per 100 gm of food items.
Consumer VOICE, COO, Mr Ashim Sanyal speaks about trans fat and hypertension
The fight against NCDs and trans fat :
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have emerged as the leading cause of human mortality and morbidity in low, middle and high-income countries alike and India is not an exception. WHO has flagged off this as a major disaster for future and their control program REPLACE lists out the basic control measures. Food Regulator in India Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has also issued a draft notification on eliminating chemical trans fats in food by 2022.
Here are some recommendations:
- Eat a dietary pattern that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Also limit red meat and sugary foods and beverages.
- Use naturally occurring, unhydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower or olive oil.
- Look for processed foods made with unhydrogenated oil rather than partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils or saturated fat.
- Look for “0 g trans fat” on the Nutrition Facts label and no hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list.
- Doughnuts, cookies, muffins, samosas, jalebis and cakes are examples of foods that may contain trans fat. Limit how frequently you eat them.
- Limit commercially fried foods and baked goods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Not only are these foods very high in fat, but that fat is also likely to be trans fat.
Celebrate Holi with Trans Fat Free Sweets
Kavita Devgan, famous nutritionist, columnist and author talks about the harmful effects of trans fat and why one should avoid trans fat rich sweets like gujiyas and snacks like samosas which are cooked in trans fat laden Vanaspati, this Holi.Have a safe, healthy and happy Holi!
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