Trans fats get a bad name when it comes to healthy eating. Generally, with good reason. But are trans fats completely unsafe or have some just fallen in with a bad crowd?
Trans fats rarely occur in nature and are more likely to be associated with chemically produced ‘food like’ products created in factories such as ready meals, most margarines or cinema snacks. And when it comes to these options there is little upside (unless you count the flavour if you happen to be a fan) and plenty of downside, such as increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks or strokes.
However, as with most nutrition related topics, to just blanket demonize a name and claim that they are all bad is a poor approach.
CLAs (Conjugated Linoleic Acids) are technically trans fats.
The difference being, these generally occur naturally and are found in most grass-fed products (meats and dairy).
However, unlike it’s chemically produced cousin, CLAs have been shown to have some fantastic health benefits.
The first of which was noted to be an ability to inhibit cancer (tested on mice – 1979) but more recently has been cited as having anti-inflammatory properties in the bowel, helping not only bloating but promoting fat loss.
So much so that CLA supplementation has become a common practice with those seeking to lose weight or lean up.
However, as noted above, CLA is abundant in grass-fed animals and associated dairy products.
Which brings us to that age-old question…
Is it too expensive to eat healthy?
CLA supplements are far from cheap.
They are one of the most expensive fat supplements you can buy.
Yet, by ensuring better meat and dairy sources in your diet, you could naturally increase your dosage (along with a ton of other increased nutritional value).
The grass fed equivalent products tend to have between 3 and 5 times as much CLA as their grain fed counterparts.
Bringing us back to the issue I’ve been arguing for many years now.
What you are purchasing when you buy food is not the volume of the food.
Your body doesn’t function on quantity of food it functions on the quality of the nutrients you give it.
And, whilst it may be more expensive to buy organic and grass-fed equivalents gram for gram, you are actually getting MORE for your money nutrient for nutrient in most cases.
The problem comes when you look to go for the healthier options but consume the same quantity of food and then compare the cost. Whereas, if you were to strip it down to how much it costs to purchase the beef equivalent of CLA, the salmon equivalent of Omega 3 or the equivalent level of vitamin E from your tomatoes by purchasing grass fed, wild and organic equivalents, you would find you need to purchase small quantities at a higher gram for gram cost and would likely end up financially better off and certainly healthier as a result.
Key points to take away:
Don’t demonize food groups by their labels.
Not all trans fats are bad
Nutrients found in nature are generally good for you regardless of their ‘label’
Nature produced food products are much higher in vitamins and minerals when they are not interfered with.
Your body understands nutritional quality not volume of food.
If you purchase healthy, nutrient rich alternatives you don’t need to consume the same amount to achieve the same nutritional input (and therefore you will feel satisfied with less).
It is certainly possible for healthy eating to become extremely expensive
Given some of the mark ups some places (such as whole foods) put on health based products (Have a search for the scandal regarding asparagus infused water) it is still possible to raise your healthy eating costs through the roof.
But, as with the trans fats label, you can’t tarnish everything under one heading with the same brush. And saying that eating healthy is more expensive as a blanket statement is just plain wrong.
I feel such an argument is often made from those who want to justify their fast food choices. Even if only subconsciously, they just don’t want to give them up.
The truth of the matter is, if you shop based on nutritional value alone, it is possible to buy more for less.
Not only that your future self (along with the health service) will be grateful for it.
Trans Fats are Bad
Myths Demystified by Mark Tiffney
What do you think?
Do you still believe that all trans fats are bad?
Do you still feel it is too expensive to eat healthy alternatives?
Are you in the camp that buys cheap food but expensive supplements?
Let me know in the comments below.