Cholesterol is a waxy substance that occurs naturally in the body. It needs some cholesterol to work properly, but too much can have a very bad effect. It can combine with other substances in the blood and stick to the walls of your arteries, forming plaque, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Plaque can narrow your arteries or even block them.
A person’s cholesterol levels tend to rise as one gets older. There are usually no signs or symptoms, but it can be detected with a blood test. People who are 20+ years of age are recommended to check their cholesterol at least once a year. You are likely to have high levels if you are overweight or obese, if you eat a lot of fatty foods, and if you have a family history.
People can do engage in several healthy activities that will reduce their cholesterol or prevent it from ever reaching dangerous levels. Good diet and exercise regimen are certainly among them. One of the most powerful methods is avoiding trans fats.
They can raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. They are also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Trans fats are unnatural fats usually found in fried and processed foods. They decrease brainpower and zap memory. Trans fats can cause cellular destruction, wreak havoc on hormone production, adversely affect memory and increase inflammation in the brain. This inhibits the body’s production of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential to brain function, according to Psychology Today.
Avoid foods that have “vegetable shortening” or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” in the ingredients list, according to Joey Gochnour, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer at Nutrition and Fitness Professional, LLC. “There is no safe amount of this that can be consumed without a disproportionate negative effect on health, according to the research,” he adds.
Labels are allowed to round down Trans fats grams to 0 if they have less than 0.5g per serving, but most people eat more than what they determine a serving is (e.g. peanut butter—you should buy the stir-up kind with the oil on top, not the shelf stable kind that doesn’t go in the refrigerator). Some peanut butters have gone back to using palm oil (tropical oils) instead of trans fat to accomplish the same purpose.
Baked goods bought at stores are among the foods that are likely to contain trans fats, which is why some cardiologists avoid them. “They are high in calories, fat and sugar,” Dr. David Fischman, co-director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Thomas Jefferson University, says. Make them at home because then you’re more likely to use less sugar and butter instead of hydrogenated oil, he adds. This is a kind of trans fat that is really bad for you.
Many processed foods contain partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the major dietary source of industrially-produced trans fat in processed food, according to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Food manufacturers must remove the primary source of trans fats from their products by 2018.
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