is trans fat really that big of a deal?

Posted on November 8, 2011


Yes, it really is. Avoid trans fat, please!

Let me explain why:

There are two types of trans fat: man-made & naturally occurring.

Man-made trans fat is made by a process called hydrogenation. This process turns a healthy, unsaturated fat into an unhealthy, trans fat. It makes a liquid fat turn into a more solid, stable fat. Trans fat not only raises your bad cholesterol, it also lowers your good cholesterol. Trans fat is worse than saturated fat.

There is a very small amount of naturally occurring trans fat found in beef, pork, lamb, and some full fat dairy products. However, this type of trans fat reacts differently than man-made trans fat does in your body, so it is less of a concern.

Now that you know what trans fat is, here’s what you should avoid:

  • baked goods like cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits
    • also, anything with shortening
  • processed snack foods
  • fried foods
  • fast food

Additionally, be careful when buying foods labeled “trans-fat free* per serving.” It may actually contain trans fat. A food company can legally label a product as having 0g if there is less than 500mg of trans fat in each serving. This may not sound that significant, but it adds up. If you consume more than the recommended serving size for food that has “0g trans fat *per serving,” it’s a possibility that you’ll consume a significant amount of trans fat.

I know what you’re thinking… OK, so if I eat two servings that means I’ll have 1g of trans fat; that’s not a big deal. But any trans fat is bad for you.

The American Heart Association recommends that less than 1% of your daily total calories come from trans fat. Meaning that you should have less than 1.5 to 2g per day, depending on your calorie needs. The overall recommendation is to consume as little trans fat as possible.

The moral of the story is to turn that box over, and read labels & ingredients lists. Don’t just rely of food manufacturers to give you the information you need. Try to avoid any packaged product that lists partially hydrogenated oil or hydrogenated oil in its ingredients list. Also, limit the amount of baked goods, processed snack foods, fried foods, and fast food you & your family eat.

Don’t worry too much though, if you eat a well-balanced, healthy diet (most of the time), you won’t be consuming trans fat.

By avoiding trans fat, you’ll be doing both your heart and your waistline a favor.


Posted in: Nutrition Facts