Confused About Trans Fats?


Q. I’m trying to avoid artery-clogging trans fats, but I don’t know how to determine which foods contain them. How do I read and interpret a food label to find trans fats?

A. It’s easier than ever! Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) began requiring food manufacturers to display the amount of trans
fats on all of their product labels. You’ll see this number listed on
the Nutrition Facts panel after Total Fat and Saturated Fat. Dietary
supplements, such as energy and nutrition bars, will also list trans
fats on their Supplement Facts panel if the product contains 0.5 grams
or more of trans fat. As you already know, trans fats are created when manufacturers turn liquid oils
into solid fats through a process called hydrogenation — originally
developed to replace harmful saturated fats and increase the shelf life
of foods. But we now know that, like saturated fats, trans fats raise
your LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol. However, unlike saturated fats, these
fats also lower your HDL (the “good”) cholesterol — so they probably
pose an even greater risk than saturated fats. Try to avoid foods
with made trans fats (found in many commercially baked snacks, such as
cookies and crackers), and instead focus on consuming foods that
contain healthy fats, such as extra-virgin olive and canola oils.

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