Margarine is a fat that is chemically saturated but is an unsaturated vegetable fat in origin. Margarine is similar to butter but much cheaper. It is produced from the cheapest vegetable oil (unsaturated). That is, the molecules of the oil from which margarine is produced have a double bond. Then, such fat is saturated with hydrogen and double bonds are destroyed, the fat becomes dense. From a liquid, it turns into a solid, that is, it becomes saturated. The worst thing about margarine is not that it became saturated, but that when it is saturated with hydrogen, the molecules twist.
The structure of the trans fat molecule
The molecule in the normal position has a cis-configuration, and in a synthetic position it has a trans-configuration. You can see the difference in the picture. This is where the name trans fat comes from. Changing the configuration of the molecule is the most dangerous in margarine, since there are no fats with such a configuration in nature. More precisely, natural synthetic fats exist in nature, but there are very few of them (the concentration per product (for example, oil) is less than 1%), and they are different in structure from trans fats.
The harm of trans fats
Margarine is a completely synthetic fat, which does not and cannot exist in nature. When we make solid fat from liquid fat, there is nothing to worry about. The biggest danger is the twisting of the molecule – this is a side effect. Our body is unable to process such fats as they are synthetic. Our body is suitable for ordinary saturated fats. And when trans fats enter the body, it recognizes them as the most common fats that are involved in all biochemical reactions in the body (energy functions, brain building, building various tissues, fats are involved in respiratory function, as well as hormone production). Our body does not understand that trans fats are not real and uses them in the above functions.
The membrane of every cell in our body is made up of fats (lipids). And if there is trans fat in such a cell, then such a cell will be a potential cancer cell. As a result, many functions of the body can suffer due to the consumption of trans fats in food.
Products containing trans fats
There are no trans fats in vegetable oils. Trans fat is not specifically made by anyone – it is a side effect of turning liquid fat into solid. Many people believe that refined oil contains a large amount of trans fats, but this is not true. Vegetable oil does not contain trans fats and cholesterol, since such oil is of vegetable origin (unsaturated fatty acids predominate in it). Refining (refining oil from impurities) is a completely different process, there is no hydrogen there. And as a result, there are no synthetic fats in vegetable oil and cannot be. Even frying oil in a deep fryer does not produce trans fats, as this is also a very different process from creating synthetic fat.
A large number of dairy products (e.g. curds) contain margarine. In the composition of curds it is written that they contain vegetable fat (liquid). It does not flow to such a product, the product keeps its shape, it contains vegetable fat, which means that it contains margarine.
Ice cream can also be made from margarine. If it is not written on the ice cream pack that it is ice cream, but, for example, only the manufacturer is written, then most likely it contains trans fats.
Mayonnaise is considered to be a very harmful product, and the source of almost all diseases. But mayonnaise is made on the basis of vegetable fat (vegetable oil, egg yolk, lemon juice), ordinary vegetable fat. So if you see ordinary vegetable fat in the composition on the pack, and the product has a liquid structure (does not hold its shape), then you can buy such mayonnaise.
Almost all baked goods, all cookies and cakes, that everyone loves so much, are all made with margarine. If you look at the composition of such products, you will see that there is margarine everywhere, and even simple carbohydrates with a high glycemic index. That is why people who consume these foods in large quantities are most often fat. Butter costs 5 times more than margarine, so making all these products on it would simply not be profitable for manufacturers.
In addition, a huge amount of trans fats is found in fast food (buns and cutlets, not french fries as you might think). French fries are fried in the cheapest vegetable oil, most often corn. Therefore, there are no trans fats in french fries, but this does not mean that french fries are a healthy product, but that’s a completely different story 🙂 Also, almost all ice cream sold in such cafes contains margarine, therefore, as I said above, it is never even called ice cream, but is called “cone”, etc.
How to determine if a product contains trans fat
Always look at the contents of the packaging. If the product should not contain vegetable fats, but they are in the composition, most likely in the composition there is margarine. Or the product should contain vegetable fat, but the product is very dense in consistency, which means it contains margarine.
In some countries, there is a law in which manufacturers are required to indicate on the packaging of the product the amount of trans fats in the composition. But in Russia, for instance, legislation does not require the amount of trans fats contained in the product to be written on the packaging. In Russia, manufacturers can simply write that there are fats in the composition, and which ones they may not specify. Therefore, carefully choose the products that make up your diet. Could you write in the comment section below, what is happening in your country?