El peligro de las grasas trans

Las grasas trans son ácidos grasos insaturados que tienen al menos un doble enlace en la configuración trans . Si bien hay pequeñas cantidades de grasas trans naturales en la carne y los productos lácteos de vacas, corderos y otros rumiantes, la gran mayoría de las que forman parte de nuestra dieta se producen industrialmente y están contenidas en alimentos elaborados con aceites vegetales parcialmente hidrogenados. La hidrogenación parcial, que convierte los aceites vegetales en grasas semisólidas para uso en margarinas, cocina comercial y procesos de manufactura, transforma aproximadamente 30% de las grasas naturales en grasas trans. En los EU, el promedio de consumo de grasas trans es del 2 al 4% del total de la energía, y las fuentes principales son la comida rápida frita, los productos de panadería (pasteles, galletas, muffins, pays, etc.), las botanas empacadas, las margarinas y el pan.

Existen evidencias considerables de los efectos dañinos del consumo de grasas trans. Además, las grasas trans resultantes de los aceites parcialmente hidrogenados no tienen ningún valor nutritivo intrínseco. Por ello, no se puede justificar el uso de aceites parcialmente hidrogenados en comparación con otros aceites o grasas naturales. Es importante que los efectos perjudiciales se perciben a partir de niveles muy bajos de consumo: por ejemplo, 1 a 3%, o aproximadamente 2 a 7 gramos (20 a 60 calorías) en el caso de una persona que consume 2000 calorías al día. Así, puede ser necesario evitar total o casi totalmente las grasas trans industriales (≤0.5% de la energía) para prevenir los efectos perjudiciales y minimizar los riesgos a la salud.

En 2004 Dinamarca fue el primer país que puso límites legales al contenido de grasas trans de los alimentos, eliminando en gran parte las grasas trans industriales de todos los comestibles (incluyendo los que se sirven en restaurantes) en ese país. Canadá está estudiando una legislación similar y la ciudad de Chicago también está considerando prohibir las grasas trans industriales en los restaurantes. Si los restaurantes y los fabricantes de alimentos no eliminan de manera voluntaria las grasas trans (como ha sucedido en gran medida en Holanda), hay varios puntos que validan la necesidad y la importancia de tomar medidas legislativas para reducir el consumo de las grasas trans.

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