Trans fats, also referred to as trans-fatty acids, are a type of fat made from adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. It is considered the worst type of fat to consume according to doctors as it can raise your bad and good cholesterol levels. This increases your risk for heart disease, which is the leading killer of men and women. Trans fats are used in different oils and foods because it makes the oil last longer before spoiling and used in many manufactured foods.
What Foods Contain Trans Fats?
The majority of the foods loaded up with trans fats are commercial products and baked goods such as cookies, chips, crackers, and cakes. You can also find them in fried foods like French fries and donuts. Many of the store-bought margarines and shortening products will also contain trans fats. However, there are far less products using trans fats nowadays than several years ago. It is more likely to see a product advertising “zero trans fats” or “no trans fats.” Products that have trans fats are required to put the information on the food label. However, you should also be aware that a food product with less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving is allowed to print 0 grans trans fats. It seems like a small amount, but many people eat more than one serving and are getting more trans fats than they realize.
How to Read Food Labels
The best way to find out whether or not your food contains trans fats is to focus on the label. First, foods without trans fats most likely have it clearly printed on the front of the package because it is a big selling point. If you can’t find this, look for the term “partially hydrogenated.” This means they are using partially hydrogenated oil, which contains trans fats to keep the product fresher for longer. Unlike fully hydrogenated or complete hydrogenated oil, partially usually signifies trans fats. It is processed and packaged foods you should be most concerned about.
Trans Fats and Cholesterol
The link between trans fats and cholesterol is also important to note. There are two types of cholesterol; low-density lipoprotein (LDL) which is considered bad cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which is considered good cholesterol. LDL can become elevated which will build up in your arteries and narrow them. HDL transfers excess cholesterol in your body back to your liver. High levels of LDL are directly linked to a raised risk of getting heart disease which is why it is considered dangerous. Since excess trans fats can convert to high levels of this bad LDL cholesterol, it is best to avoid it whenever possible.