You’ve seen the headlines. You’ve heard about the controversy and political debate. But what’s the real story on trans fats—and what does it mean to your family? We have the details you need to know.
Food makers create trans fats (or "partially hydrogenated oil") during a process that adds hydrogen to liquid oils, making them more solid. You can easily spot trans fats by looking at the food’s ingredient list.
Quick Tip: Check the ingredients list for "partially hydrogenated oils." This is trans fat’s alias. Food manufacturers can label their foods "trans fat free" or "zero grams trans fat" even if there is a small amount present. These small amounts can add up over time, so check the ingredients!
Trans fats are in everything from cookies to snack foods to frozen dinners. Most of the trans fat in our diet comes from packaged foods.
Quick Tip: Pay special attention to microwave popcorn, cookies, crackers, pie crust, icing, cake and pancake mix, coffee creamers and frozen dinners, which may contain trans fat.
They raise the level of bad cholesterol (LDL), while lowering the good kind (HDL), which ups the odds of heart disease. Trans fat is so dangerous for our health that the FDA has given food manufacturers around three years to remove it from foods.
Quick Tip: Swap your shortening and stick margarine for vegetable oil, butter or soft tub margarine, which typically don’t contain partially hydrogenated oil.
Doctors are finding plaque buildup in the arteries of young kids, and this generation of children is expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. The time to worry about heart disease is now, even for our youngest kids.
Quick Tip: Avoid fried foods. Swap foods like French fries and chicken nuggets (especially those at fast food restaurants) for baked or grilled entrees and vegetable or fruit side dishes.