The Food and Drug Association made a bold statement last week about trans fat in food. In a statement to the press, the FDA said that “artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in food.” Their warning can be a little bit scary, especially if you don’t know what trans fats are or where you might find them.
What are Trans Fats?
Trans fat can be found naturally in some foods. But most trans fats, and the kind that doctors warn us about, are those that are found in processed foods. They are partially hydrogenated oils that are used in foods to keep them from spoiling.
So why is trans fat bad for you? Eating foods with trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) there is no safe level of consumption of artificial trans fat so we should consume as little as possible.
What Foods Contain Trans Fat?
So how do you find trans fat in your food? It is often found in processed foods, such as certain desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizzas, margarine and coffee creamers. Many cookies and crackers contain hydrogenated oils, as well.
It’s important, however, to be a smart consumer when you look for trans fat. Many labels will advertise that they contain “no trans fat” when, in fact, they do. Coffee creamer is a good example. While the label of some brands say that they contain no trans fat, if you check the ingredients list, you’ll see that many contain partially hydrogenated oil. Manufacturers are allowed to say that their product is “trans-fat free” if it contains less than .5 grams per serving. But since most of us use more than a single serving of creamer, we are likely to be getting more trans fat than we need.
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