Sep 14, 2020
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Invisible killers. Trans fats kill more slowly than viruses, but surely

Why has the World Health Organization reminded of the dangers of trans fats and the need to eliminate them in foods by 2023? Aren't there bigger problems now?

In fact, by the most conservative estimates, these fats cost the world 500,000 deaths annually from coronary heart disease alone. On their account there are many lives lost due to other diseases, such as cancer. By the way, recently we wrote about new data that they cause ovarian cancer in women. In addition to cancer, they increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, as well as fatty liver, diabetes and infertility. It is especially wild that margarines, spreads and cooking oils have long been touted as healthy substitutes for butter, lard, and other animal fats. The latter were supposedly rich in cholesterol. But now it is already clear that no fat and oil products are more harmful than trans fats.

Russian specificity

“The volume of the world market for partially hydrogenated oils, which are the main source of industrial trans fats in food, in 2017 was about 13.6 million tons,” says Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Head of the National Research Center "Healthy Nutrition" Oleg Medvedev... - It is difficult to assess the data for Russia, and we have not come across such data.

And, although the measures on trans fats taken in the Eurasian Economic Union are noted as one of the first regional initiatives, nevertheless, according to the official WHO classification, they are regarded as "Less stringent restrictions". This means that in some countries they are stricter. We regulate the content of trans fats in fat products: there should be no more than 2% of them. However, there are no restrictions on the use of trans fats in public catering and there are no requirements for their labeling: the amount of such fats does not need to be indicated on the product label, as is done in many countries.

The strictest and most effective measures taken in some countries is to set limits on the allowable amount of trans fats at the level of 2% in the final product, including not only food in stores, but also food in the catering sector (fast food, restaurants, canteens, etc.) .d.).

The WHO report provides data on the dependence of mortality from cardiovascular disease on the consumption of trans fats. The leaders of the list are the USA, Egypt, Latvia, in them the share of such deaths is 6-8%. In Russia, the situation is better: just over 2%. For comparison: in Italy, Israel, Spain - less than 1%.

To address the issue of banning trans fats and complying with accepted norms, Russia and the EEC countries need more laboratories and need to have a unified method for measuring these fats. It is also important to extend the application of existing regulations to the food service industry and to expand laboratory capabilities for determining trans fats. Their ban is a real measure to reduce mortality from the most serious chronic diseases. "

Natural are harmful, but less

What are the specific guidelines for the trans fat content of foods? It would be better if they did not exist at all. But the realistic position of the WHO is that their number should not exceed 1% of the total daily calorie intake. This is less than 2.2 grams of such fats per day from a diet of 2,000 calories.

All of this refers to the so-called artificial trans fats, which are formed during the processing of oils in the food industry, when they are made from liquid to solid through a hydrogenation process. In this case, hydrogen is passed through the oils in the presence of a catalyst. Fats become harder and a significant proportion of them are converted to trans fats. But besides them, there are also natural trans fats. How to treat them? Are they also bad for your health?

“All WHO recommendations apply only to industrial trans fats created by the hydrogenation of vegetable oils,” explains Zinaida Medvedeva, Executive Director of the Scientific Research Center "Healthy Food"... - But there are also natural trans fats, which are formed in the stomach of cows and make up 6-8% of the fat phase. Scientists have concluded that in terms of harmful effects they are no different from industrial ones, the only difference is that there are much less of them and if you consume low-fat milk, their negative impact is completely minimized. "

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