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The Truth About Trans Fats

How to Reduce Trans Fat in Your Diet

Reducing trans fat is important for heart health. Trans fats are an unsaturated fat that is mostly found in foods that contain hydrogenated oils and shortening. Trans fats are created when oils are processed to be more solid and stable at room temperature.

Eating trans fat can increase your blood cholesterol levels which can lead to atherosclerosis, heart attack, or stroke. But the harmful effects of trans fat may be greater than high blood cholesterol. Research suggests that trans fat may also play a role in inflammation and insulin resistance. (Atheroscler Suppl. 2006 May;7(2):5-8. Epub 2006 May 19 Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease-epidemiological data.)

What Foods Have Trans Fat?

Some trans fats are found in foods naturally. Some meat and dairy products have small amounts of trans fat. But most of the trans fat we eat comes from processed foods - margarine, bakery products, cookies, crackers, microwave popcorn and frozen french fries are supermarket items that may contain high levels of trans fat.

Many manufacturers are changing their recipes to remove or reduce the amount of trans fat in their foods so check food labels - trans fat is now listed on the Nutrition Facts panel. Look at the ingredient listing as well. If the food contains hydrogenated oils or shortening the food may still contain small amounts of trans fat even if the label says 0 grams. Plus, the value for trans fat on the label is for one serving - so eating multiple servings may add up.

Eating out can be tricky. Trans fat is often found in frying oils and certain restaurant foods. Many national restaurant chains make nutrition information available to consumers, including trans fat. If you cannot find trans fat information for your restaurant, choose foods that are not fried and meals that include fresh foods like vegetables, grains, and beans.

Diet Goal for Trans Fat - Trans Fat per Day

The American Heart Association recommends that you eat less then 2 or 3 grams of trans fat per day, depending on your total calorie intake. Your goal should be to eat no trans fat in processed foods such as margarine, baked goods, and fried foods.


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