There’s nothing worse than hearing that the things that taste good are also the worst things for you to eat. That’s just how life works sometimes.
What makes it even more difficult is when people tell you things like, “You know, _____ is bad for you,” but they never tell you why. Maybe if you knew why these things are bad for you, they wouldn’t be so dang appetizing. So that’s what I’ll do here.
First I’m going to tell you “Trans fats are bad for you.”
“McDonalds is bad for you”
“Burger King is bad for you”
Yes, virtually everyone in the world knows these things, yet fast food is a staple in the average person’s diet because most people don’t know what the trans fats are doing to you.
What Are Trans Fats?
Trans fats are actually the result of a creation by man. In fact, many of the things that are bad for us today are the result of man-made creations.
In 1901, Wilhelm Norman, a German chemist, first invented a way to hydrogenate cheap liquid oils and make them solid at room temperature. The process was patented and used to hydrogenate fats in 1909.
Hydrogenation is a fairly simple process. Raw oils are hardened by transporting hydrogen atoms at high pressure in the presence of an alkaline catalyst. The end goal is to take the unsaturated molecules and saturate them until the required texture is reached. Full hydrogenation would saturate all of the unsaturated molecules, but the hydrogenation process is rarely completed and is stopped when the desired texture is grasped.
Why don’t manufacturers finish the hydrogenation process?
The simple answer is that full hydrogenation is more expensive. While it is unhealthy for the consumer, manufacturers seem to be more concerned with money. Hydrogenation takes some of the molecular carbon-carbon bonds and turns them into trans bonds. When the hydrogenation process is not completed, there are high amounts of trans bonds left over in the end product.
This effectively creates what are known as trans fatty-acids.
So, basically the trans fats are results of incomplete hydrogenation between unsaturated and saturated molecules.
Healthy Trans Fats and Testosterone
First off, there are perfectly healthy forms of trans fatty acids that occur naturally. There are small amounts of trans fatty acids contained in natural animal fats. Don’t worry about these. They are not part of the man-made hydrogenation process and will not have adverse effects on your health.
A recent study was conducted in order to combat the demonizing view of all trans fats by the media. Results showed that there are distinct and differential properties of naturally occurring trans fats when compared to those that are synthetically produced.
Natural trans fats actually have positive lipid-lowering effects when speaking in terms of fasting and postprandial lipid metabolism.
Unhealthy Trans Fats
Now that we know we are not talking about the naturally occurring trans fats, let’s dive more into the unhealthy, synthetically formed trans fats we see all over these days. Why are trans fats unhealthy?
First, trans fats lower the good kind of HDL cholesterol we promote here at UMZU and are filled with the bad kind of LDL cholesterol we certainly do not recommend.
This study found that trans fatty acids not only lower HDL cholesterol, they also raise triglycerides and lipoprotein levels in plasma. But why is this bad?
In another study, over 4000 men were tested for testosterone and HDL cholesterol. Across the board, a correlation was found where men with higher HDL cholesterol also had higher testosterone. In other words, get your HDL cholesterol and your testosterone levels will rise.
Second, trans fats cause systemic inflammation in your body. Why is this bad? Systemic inflammation has been found to be a major cause of many illnesses.
Third, trans fats put you at risk for cardiovascular disease. In fact, another study found that for every 2 percent increase in energy coming from trans fats, there is an effective 23 percent increase for cardiovascular disease.
The bottom line is, there are no known health benefits to ingesting synthetically produced trans fats, but there are a whole lot of unhealthy results. So, just stay away.
Unhealthy Trans Fats and Testosterone
One of the unhealthy results of eating trans fats is lowered testosterone levels. The reason why is that trans fats are mainly classified as polyunsaturated fatty acids. Increased levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids are linked with lower testosterone levels. In fact, you should stick to only monounsaturated fats and saturated fats if you want to keep your testosterone levels high.
But that’s not the only problem with trans fats and testosterone; the fact that trans fats lower HDL cholesterol does detriment your testosterone production because HDL cholesterol is crucial for testosterone synthesis. The inflammation caused by trans fats will also increase oxidative stress and cortisol levels, which we all know is the enemy of testosterone.
As you can see, trans fats really are terrible for your testosterone production. While trans fats are bad for everyone, they are extremely bad for men.
How to Avoid Trans Fats
Knowing which foods to avoid is much easier than actually avoiding those foods. The basic principle behind avoiding trans fats is just to avoid any packaged or processed foods and drive-thrus.
Unfortunately there are so many trans fatty foods that taste so good, most people will not even attempt to avoid them. Here is a list of the foods that are the highest in trans fats. If you do nothing else, avoid the following 12 foods.
Deep Fried Foods
Partially hydrogentated oils make foods last longer in the fast food restaurants, so trans fats are common in the drive-thru kitchen. Many fast food chains have stated they no longer use partially hydrogenated oils, but some like Popeye’s still use them.
The light and flaky texture of pie crust is usually due to the trans fat content.
Stick to butter. Margarine is almost entirely just hydrogenated vegetable oil. One tablespoon contains 2.5g of trans fat.
Remember Crisco? Yea, that’s still a thing.
Betty Crocker frosting contains up to two grams of trans fat per serving.
Most pancake mixes (and waffle mixes) contain high levels of trans fats and rely on those fats to maintain texture.
Adding this to your daily coffee can really rack up the trans fats.
That butter is just partially hydrogenated oil with butter flavoring. Buttered popcorn can contain up to 15 grams of TF per serving.
Store-Bought Cookies and Cakes
In order to increase shelf life, manufacturers use partially hydrogenated oil.
Biscuits from the Supermarket
Most fast food chains have removed trans fats from biscuits, but the ones at the supermarket still contain high levels of trans fats.
Fast Food Ice Cream and Shakes
You can get a few grams of trans fats in a Dairy Queen blizzard. Fun fact, the Wendy’s vanilla waffle cone contains more trans fat than anything else on the menu.
Ritz, saltines and most other store bought crackers are high in trans fat. Think again before sitting down with a sleeve of Ritz, you just might eat them all.
Do your best to cut all of these 12 foods out of your diet. And work hard at eliminating trans fats all together.