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This Dussehra let’s vanquish high fat, high salt and high sugar, says Dr Harsh Vardhan

A day ahead of Dussehra, traditionally celebrated as the day when good overcomes evil, the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan urged all Indians to vanquish high fat, high sugar and high salt from their diet.

“This festive season, promise yourself that you shall reduce the intake of foods high in fat, sugar, and salt,” the minister wrote on his Twitter handle, and shared it with the hashtags AajSeThodaKam and EatRightIndia.

Eat Right India is a movement started by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on 10 July 2018, to improve public health by spreading awareness about healthy food habits and combating negative nutritional trends.

New ‘Trans-Fat Free’ logo

On Friday, Dr Harsh Vardhan had also launched the “trans fat-free” logo at the eighth International Chefs Conference in New Delhi. The motive: to help people avoid trans fats, especially during festivals like Diwali and Dussehra.

India is on a mission to eliminate trans fats by 2022. Food establishments that either use trans-fat free fats and oil or which do not have more than 0.2g of industrial trans-fat per 100g of food - the safe norm as per the FSSAI - can use the logo. It is not mandatory to put up the logo at this point, though it will help customers make more informed choices while buying packaged food.

Why trans fats are the worst

Trans fats are the unhealthiest type of fats - worse than saturated fats. While some amount of these fats are present naturally in dairy and meat products, most of the trans fats we consume are artificial.

Artificial trans fats are produced in industries when liquid vegetable oils are converted into solid - to increase their shelf life. High salt and sugar also act as preservatives, to increase the shelf-life of packaged foods.

Trans fats are present in almost all commercially produced fried and baked products like cookies, frozen foods, potato chips, cakes with frosting and microwave popcorn.

While there isn’t concrete proof about the health effects of natural trans fats yet, they are not considered a big health risk by medical practitioners. On the other hand, artificial trans fats increase your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and decrease the HDL (good cholesterol), putting you at risk of heart diseases.

Studies show that trans fats also increase the risk of inflammation in obese people. Chronic inflammation has been linked to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and arthritis.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration excluded trans fats from their generally recognised as safe (GRAS) category in 2015 - this means artificial trans fats are no longer considered safe for consumption.

To be sure, studies link all three - high fat, high sugar and high salt diets - to lifestyle conditions from high cholesterol and diabetes to heart disease. While the festive season is a time for family get-togethers and feasts, it's good to remember that there is always a choice. This Dussehra, when someone offers you jalebi and milk, take the milk. If someone offers you walnuts and sweets, accept the nuts. If someone gives you a choice between a cola and a green tea; you know what your answer should be.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Fats: Types, Sources, and Impact on Health.

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