Small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in beef, lamb, and full-fat dairy products but most trans fatty acids in our diet come from hydrogenated and processed foods. Trans fats enhance the flavor, texture, and shelf life of many processed foods -- from cookies to frozen products. Unfortunately, they come with many health risks Trans fat gives a double dose of bad news, as it increases bad cholesterol, which is actually Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and decreases good cholesterol, which is actually high density lipoprotein (HDL). The ratio of LDL to HDL helps determine your risk factor for heart disease.

Trans fatty acids or trans fats are basically transforming liquid fat into solid fats. It is done by the process of hydrogenation (by adding hydrogen atoms). Which is why trans fats are also called Hydrogenated Fat.

Now the question is why is there the need for Hydrogenation of oil?

This is done to increase the shelf life of fat.Trans fats can be found in any grocery list of foods including vegetable shortening, margarine, crackers cereals, candies, baked goods, cookies, granola bars, chips, snack foods, salad dressings, fats, fried foods, and many other processed foods.

Products that contain partially hydrogenated oils or vegetable shortening may contain Trans fats.

Several serious health issues could be caused by consumption of trans-fatty acids: • Coronary Heart Disease • Alzheimer's Disease • Obesity • Liver Disease • Infertility • Cancer and Diabetes Because of the serious health risks that seem to be linked to trans fat consumption, you need be careful of food products with trans fat.

Here are some ways which can help you in making a better choice.

1. Read the nutrition label to check the amount of Trans fat present in the product. If in the ingredients section, it says “partially hydrogenated”, ”hydrogenated”, ”Shortening”, then it contains trans fat even if they haven’t mentioned ‘Trans Fat’ because all above mentioned ingredients contain trans fat. 2. When you can’t avoid trans fats, choose the foods labeled “partially Hydrogenated”, so that you consume a lower amount of trans fat. 3. Whenever you are eating out, if possible then do ask your server what oil they are using for preparation. If available ask for healthier oil (vegetable oils like sunflower, soyabean, safflower oil) or try to skip deep fried foods. 4. Try to avoid all processed, fried and commercially available foods as much as possible. 5. Avoid street food which uses same oil for re-frying foods. If you really can’t avoid it, then check whether there is froth formation in the oil in the vessel being used. If yes, then you should stay away from that food. 6. When you are out for grocery shopping always pick liquid oils over solid fats as liquid oils contains little to no trans fat. 7. Choose lean meat void of all visible fat. 8. Choose reduced, low fat or no fat dairy foods.

Completely avoiding trans fat is close to impossible in this day and age. But if we are relatively cautious of consuming processed or deep fried foods, we can reduce it’s harm to our body. Also, maintain an overall healthy balanced diet and regular exercise routine to further prevent trans fat from affecting your health.