Trans Fat Facts

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that we eat as little trans-fats as possible. So what are trans-fats, why are they bad for us and what foods are they found in?

There are two different types of trans-fats: natural and synthetic. Natural trans-fats are found in small amounts in animal products such as meat and dairy foods. Most of the trans-fats in the food supply however are synthetic and are created when liquid oil is hydrogenated, making it more solid at room temperature.  Trans fats may be used by food manufacturers for a variety of reasons including increasing shelf-stability, enhancing foods taste and texture and because they are often less expensive than other types of fats. Foods that may contain trans-fats include stick margarines, fried foods such as doughnuts and French fries, snack foods and baked goods such as pastries, cookies and crackers. 

Similar to saturated fats, trans-fats have been shown to increase LDL, or “bad cholesterol” and increase our risk for heart disease. To minimize your intake of trans-fats, follow these tips:

  • Read food labels. The Food and Drug Administration requires that labels include the amount of trans-fats found in a serving of food. However, only foods that contain more than 0.5 grams of trans-fat per serving are required to list this on their food label. To ensure a food doesn’t contain trans-fat, look at the ingredient list and watch out for foods that include “hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated oils”.  
  • Choose soft tub margarines instead of the stick variety. 
  • Limit your intake of fast-food and fried food. 
  • Choose lean meats and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. 

Source: eatright.org and 2010 Dietary Guidelines


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