The Skinny on Trans Fat

December 17, 2006 at 12:48 am | Posted in Nutrition Info | Leave a comment

What’s the deal with Trans Fats?

You see “No Trans Fats” on packages now. But why?

The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, has found a relationship between the intake of trans fat and the increased risk for heart disease. Trans fat is known to increase blood levels of LDL, so-called “bad” cholesterol, while lowering levels of HDL, known as “good” cholesterol. Trans fat is made through a harsh chemical treatment of unsaturated fat that gives it a longer shelf life. Many food companies prefer to use trans fat instead of oil because it can reduce costs, extend a product’s storage life and improve characteristics such as flavor and texture- (gee, thanks!)

The US now requires that food labels include trans fat in addition to saturated fat and total fat. But you can’t just look for 0 grams trans fat on the labels. There is a catch. The USDA allows manufacturers to round to the nearest 500mg, or half gram. As long as a food has less than a half gram of trans fat per serving, they can put a big zero on that line, even if there is partially hydrogenated oil listed in the ingredients list. And we all know that the serving size companies use for the nutritional facts is usually ridiculously smaller than normal. I mean, seriously, who is going to just eat 10 potato chips and call it a serving?

SO, be sure to look for partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients list, regardless of what the nutritional information says. You’ll be surprised how much food has this ingredient once you start looking for it.

trans fat comic


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