Posts Tagged ‘trans fats’

FDA bans hydrogenated oils

Now even the U.S. Government is on board with what health specialists have known all along: partially hydrogenated oils and the industrial trans fats they contain are not safe for human consumption.

The FDA already requires food manufacturers to list the amount of trans fats in their products. It also removed trans fats from the category of Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).

However, now the FDA is working to remove partially hydrogenated oils from the food supply.

Food manufacturers have three years to phase them out of use, which should make boxed, packaged, and restaurant foods safer by June of 2018.

FDA banning trans fats to protect heart health

The FDA cites heart disease risks for banning trans fats. Trans fats contribute to a build up of plaque in arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. The FDA says removing trans fats from the food supply will prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks each year.

Trans fats also shrink the brain

Partially hydrogenated oils also shrink the brain and increase the risk of dementia. One study found that even very small amounts of trans fats damage the brain.

This is important to know because manufacturers are not required to list trans fats on the nutrition label if they contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. If you see partially hydrogenated oil listed in the ingredients, then avoid that food (even if the nutrition label says 0 grams trans fat).

Hydrogenated oils are closer in structure to plastic than food and damage the brain in more than one way. They deprive the brain of oxygen by clogging arteries that bring blood to the brain.

They also become part of brain cell membranes. Cell membranes, which are comprised of fats, communicate with other cells and determine what enters and exits the cell. When hydrogenated oils in the diet become part of cell membranes, this makes them more rigid and less functional. The sheaths that insulate and protect neurons also incorporate trans fats.

This process also replaces the vital brain fats DHA and essential omega-3 fatty acid. As a result, cellular communication suffers, brain tissue degenerates, and disorders such as poor mental performance, mood disorders, memory loss, or health problems can arise.

Avoiding trans fats

Always read ingredient labels and ask food servers what type of oil is used for frying. Here are foods that commonly contain hydrogenated oils:

  • Crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies and other baked goods
  • Snack foods (such as some microwave popcorn)
  • Stick margarines
  • Coffee creamers
  • Refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls)
  • Ready-to-use frostings
  • Brain-friendly diet

Ditch trans fats and go for a brain-friendly diet that includes leafy green vegetables, seafood, eggs, olive oil, nuts, avocados, colorful fruits, nuts, and meats. To learn more about ways to eat for healthier brain function, check out the leaky gut/autoimmune diet and ask my office for information.

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trans fats shrink brain

A recent study found a diet high in trans fats shrinks the brain and increases the risk of dementia. Trans fats are found in fast foods, processed foods, margarine, shortening, chips, flaky pastries, many fried foods, and many popular convenience foods. They can be identified in a list of ingredients as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil.

Diet high in vitamins, omega 3s protect brain

On the other hand, study participants who ate diets high in vitamins B, C, D, and E and omega 3 fatty acids were found to have larger, healthier brains than their junk-food eating counterparts. These nutrients are found in a diet high in vegetables, fruits, fish, and raw nuts and seeds.

Even small amounts of trans fats damaging

Although a few studies in the past have examined the link between brain health and trans fats, this study by Oregon Health and Science University in Portland was the first to measure blood levels of trans fats in relation to brain volume using MRI brain scans.

The most sobering observation was that blood levels of trans fat levels were not that high, a testament to the damage they cause even in small amounts.

Researchers suggest that trans fats in the diet replace healthy fats in the brain’s cell membranes, which affects the ability of the brain to function properly.

Brain is made of mostly fat

Cell membranes communicate with other cells and determine what is allowed to enter and exit the cell. Fatty acids make up a significant portion of cell membranes, brain tissue, and myelin sheaths, which protect neurons that communicate with one another. In fact, about 60 percent of the brain is made up of fat, coming from fats in the diet.

Trans fats replace good fats in brain

When trans fats become part of the cells and nerve sheaths they replace vital brain fats, such as DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. As a result, cellular communication suffers, the cells degenerate, brain volume shrinks, and memory and cognition suffer.

Trans fats restrict blood flow to brain

Trans fats also contribute to the clogging of veins and arteries, which inhibits blood flow to the brain. Constricting blood flow to the brain robs the brain of oxygen and vital nutrients, another factor that degenerates, or shrinks, the brain and affects function.

The good news is that a diet high in vitamins B, C, D, and E, and omega 3 fatty acids protects the brain from shrinkage and decline. The study subjects who ate a diet abundant in these nutrients consistently scored better on mental performance tests and showed less brain shrinkage.

Eating to protect brain health

Trans fats are closer to plastic than food, significantly impacting brain health, and it’s best to strictly avoid them.

Instead, aim for a brain-friendly diet that includes leafy green vegetables, seafood, eggs, olive oil, nuts, avocadoes, colorful fruits, nuts, and meats.

Also, eliminating all sweets and sodas, minimizing starchy foods (grains, potatoes, legumes, etc.), and eliminating foods to which you are intolerant (gluten and dairy, for example) will reduce inflammation, another factor that shrinks the brain and steals memory. An allergy-elimination diet is a good way to ferret out which foods may be causing inflammation.

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