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9. Understand Artificial Trans Fat

Trans fat is an artificial fat produced when liquid vegetable oil is treated with heat, chemicals, and hydrogen to transform it into a product that is semisolid at room temperature. The artificial trans fat that is causing all the uproar is made from partially hydrogenated polyunsaturated oil, usually soybean or cottonseed oil. To partially hydrogenate oil, the liquid oil is combined with a metal catalyst to speed up the chemical reaction. Hydrogen gas is bubbled through the mixture under high temperature and pressure, and the fat is then steam-cleaned and deodorized. All of these steps result in a highly processed, artificial food that is treated as a natural fat source by the body.

The fat is inexpensive, performs beautifully in both baked and deep-fried applications, keeps food fresher longer, and provides a nice “mouthfeel” to many products. Trans fat was a godsend to the food industry. It was used instead of animal fats like butter or lard because those fats are notoriously volatile. They become rancid quickly, are difficult to store, and can be very expensive. Hydrogenated fat is easier to work with, doesn’t become rancid, and can be used over and over again without breaking down or burning.

But, as always with something that seems too good to be true, there was a catch. Trans fat is one of the few food ingredients that is truly bad for you. Fortunately, many popular baking products, like Crisco, that once relied on trans fat are changing their recipes to ensure the health of their customers. These changes are good for your health and good for your metabolism!

10. Understand How Artificial Trans Fat Affects Your Body

Artificial trans fat isn’t recognized by your body as an artificial substance, so it is not discarded in the digestion process. Instead, it is used in chemical reactions as though it was a normal fatty acid. In your cell membranes, in the lining of arteries and veins, and in your liver, brain, and kidneys, trans fat is fully incorporated, changing the functions and properties of your cells and of the enzymes that fuel your body. Sometimes knowing how something affects your body inspires you to eat healthier. Trans fat has been proven to affect our bodies negatively in the following ways:

• Changes hormone levels

• Increases LDL cholesterol levels

• Decreases HDL cholesterol levels

• Damages cell membranes, decreasing nutrient absorption

• Reduces flexibility of capillaries and arteries

• Increases the level of insulin in the bloodstream

• Contributes to weight gain, especially around the midsection

• Causes inflammation in cell walls and artery walls

• Increases the risk of cancer through free radicals

11. Stay on the Low End of Fat Quotas

Every day, an average healthy person should consume approximately 2,000 calories. Of that amount, 45 to 65 should be from carbohydrates, 10 to 35 percent from protein, and 20 to 35 percent from fat. That means that 900 to 1300 calories should come from carbs, 200 to 700 calories from protein, and 400 to 700 calories from fat.

Try to keep trans fat consumption to less than 1 percent of your daily calories; that is about 2.0 grams. Saturated fat consumption should be no more than 20 to 30 grams per day. The total amount of cholesterol you should consume is around 200 to 300 milligrams.

13. Know Your Trans Fat Oils

The chart on the following page provides vital information about the amount of trans fat in common oils. Keep this in mind when you head to the grocery store and make the metabolism-boosting decision to avoid these fatty foods.

ARTIFICIAL TRANS FAT IN FATS AND OILS

Type of FatAmount of Artificial Trans FatServing Size
Corn oil 0.04 grams 1 tablespoon
Canola oil 0.11 grams 1 tablespoon
Soybean oil 0.09 grams 1 tablespoon
Solid shortening 4.28 grams 1 tablespoon
Stick margarine 2.70 grams 1 tablespoon
Nonfat tub margarine 0.03 grams 1 tablespoon
80% fat tub margarine 1.10 grams 1 tablespoon

*Amounts were calculated using NutriBase Clinical version 7.0. When amounts were not available, all of the monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fat numbers were added, and then subtracted from the total number of fat grams. The remainder is a good approximation of the trans fat in each product.

14. Cook at Home

One of the best things you can do to reduce your exposure to trans fat and limit excess fat in other food products is to cook more at home. Having control over the foods you put in your body is an important first step toward reclaiming your health—and boosting your metabolism. Using natural fats like butter, cold-pressed olive oil, and coconut oil will ensure that even your baked and fried foods will have little or no artificial trans fat.

You can substitute trans fat–free margarines specifically made for baking for the butter and use egg substitutes as well. Be sure to follow the directions for converting recipes on these products’ packages.

15. Choose the Right Frying Oil

When you choose to fry or make a food that is higher in fat, use natural fats like butter or lard. Cold-pressed peanut oil and canola oil are also good choices for deep-frying.

16. Eat Brightly Colored Food

Base your diet on the color wheel. Food that is brightly colored automatically has less fat and will help boost your metabolic rate. Try eating brightly colored foods, like red bell peppers, strawberries, melons, tomatoes, blueberries, grapes, carrots, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

17. Choose Whole Foods over Processed Foods

Whole foods—meats and dairy products, whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits—should form the bulk of your diet. However, keep in mind that totally banning any food group is going to eliminate some essential nutrients. The only really “bad” food is trans fat! In fact, nutritionists know that whole foods contain many vital micronutrients that haven’t even been discovered. Eating processed foods and junk food and using a multivitamin to compensate isn’t a viable option.

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