You may hear the term trans fat thrown around a lot but may not know quite what it is. Or you may have a good idea you’re supposed to avoid it and believe that when the nutrition label says zero trans fat that it’s not present.
First, trans fat (or trans fatty acid) are created when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oil to make it more solid. Companies that utilize this industrial process may be doing so because it’s inexpensive to produce and lasts a long time. It may also make foods better tasting. Restaurants and fast-food chains tend to rely on trans fats to deep fry foods because the oils can be used multiple times in the commercial fryers. Doesn’t seem so bad in theory but trans fat have been linked to raising bad cholesterol (LDL) levels while lowering the good (HDL). This substance may also increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Arteries can become clogged, especially if coupled with a sedentary lifestyle.
As more research has become available a higher number of food companies are removing trans fat from their products. Here’s the trick of it. Read the nutrition label and scour the list of ingredients. If you see the words “partially hydrogenated oils” it contains trans fat. Look again, does the label say trans fat free? Does it say zero grams of trans fat, yet it says “hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients? This is because by law they are allowed to say it’s trans fat free if there is only a small amount present.
Trans fat does naturally occur in small amounts in dairy and meat products. Again, the list of ingredients will give it away for sure. There are some easy ways to limit your consumption of trans fat:
- Reduce consumption of meat, particularly red meat, opt for lean meat instead (again this is naturally occurring trans fat)
- Switch to nonfat milk or switch to a dairy milk alternative such as almond or coconut which are still high in protein and calcium
- Eliminate junk food especially those containing processed sugar and trans-fat, when you feel an urge grab something truly trans fat free
- Track your saturated fat intake – remember, not all fats are bad just be aware of what you’re eating
Starting off with small changes leads to big results. Sound off on the movement to ban trans fat. Like, share and comment below if you agree or disagree. We want to hear from you.
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