Trans Fats: The Anti-fertility Fats

Crisco Ad Trans Fats Fertility Nutrition

It may be good for cake making, but it sure isn't good for baby making...

Old school food advertisements always crack me up. Many of them would cause a public uproar today. Like the one above. Really? Crisco, digestible? Back then, ads for vegetable shortening led us to believe it was the healthiest foods ever. Some of the ads even included the claim "9 out of 10 doctors say: it's digestible." Flash forward 50 to 70 years. Shortening, and all such trans fat laden products, have become heart health public enemy number 1. But, while we are demonizing trans fats for raising our cholesterol, very little attention is given to it's equally harmful affect on our fertility.

One of the first suggestions in The Fertility Diet is to steer clear of trans fats. Trans fats are often found, though less so now, in store bought pastries, cookies, crackers, and other processed foods.  A study published by Jorge E Chavarro, Janet W Rich-Edwards, Bernard A Rosner, and Walter C Willett in 2007, found a connection between trans fats and infertility. The more trans fats a woman had in her diet the higher her risk of having ovulatory infertility.

Trans fats, while found in nature in small amounts, are mostly man made. They are created when liquid oils undergo a process that makes the liquid oil solid at room temperature.  This gives them a much longer shelf life; unfortunately they tend to shorten our shelf life. Keeping them at a minimum in our diet, is one of the best things we can do for our overall health and fertility.

Governmental labeling requirements and local bans have made it easier to identify the foods which contain trans fats and have lowered the amount of trans fats found in our food supply. That doesn't mean they aren't still lurking around though. Despite the evidence against them, some food manufacturers and restaurants still make products and prepare foods using partially hydrogenated oils.

What can make it even more complicated are our food labeling laws. Even if a food is labeled trans fat free, they still might be present, but in amounts so low companies aren't required to include them on the label. You may be wondering how you are supposed to avoid them if you don't even know they are there. All hope is not lost; you can always check out the ingredients list. If you see the words “partially hydrogenated oil” it is safe to assume that food contains trans fats, even if the nutrition facts label states otherwise.

When I decided the trans fats had to go, the first food I switched out was my beloved peanut butter. I traded in my favorite processed creamy delight (it owed its creamy delightfulness to its partially hydrogenated oils) for an equally creamy and delightful natural variety containing only peanuts and salt. Now I can nosh on my snack of choice, peanut butter and apples, without worrying about raising my risk of heart disease and lowering my chance of pregnancy in the future.

Are there any foods in your cabinet you may need to exchange for a healthier option?