Trans fats are found in fried foods, commercial baked goods and processed foods. Trans fat is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil during a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavor stability of foods containing these fats. Food manufacturers started putting them in products because they allow foods to have a longer shelf life. For example, crackers can stay crispy for years partly because of the hydrogenated fats in them. However, many contain only trace amounts. Unlike other fats, the majority of trans fat is formed when food manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats like shortening and hard margarine.
Trans fats, saturated fats and dietary cholesterol raise the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) that increases your risk for coronary heart disease. Trans fats do the same thing in our bodies that bacon grease does to kitchen sinks. Over time, they can “clog the pipes” that supply blood, oxygen and other necessary nutrients to your heart and brain, which can lead to an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Although saturated fat is the main dietary culprit that raises LDL, trans fats and dietary cholesterol also contribute significantly.
What foods have trans fat?
Trans fats are found in foods made with partially hydrogenated oils such as vegetable shortenings, some margarines (specifically hard margarines), and cookies, candies and fried foods made with, or fried in, partially hydrogenated oils. A small amount of trans fat is found naturally, mostly in whole fat dairy products, some meat and other animal-based foods.
Foods that are likely to have trans fats:
• Fast foods - fried chicken, biscuits, fried fish sandwiches, French fries, fried apple or other pie desserts
• Donuts, muffins
• Some crackers
• Some cookies
• Cakes, cake icing
• Microwaved popcorn
• Canned biscuits
• International and instant latte coffee beverages
Why is it important for my health?
Knowing the amount of trans fat in foods will help you make healthier food choices. To reduce your risks for heart disease, keep your total fat, trans fat, cholesterol and saturated fat intake to a minimum. Learn how to read the Nutrition Facts label and know what to look for to help you make healthier food choices.
What to look for on the Nutrition Facts label
Use the Quick Guide for total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol:
• 5% DV (Daily Value) or less is considered low
• 20% DV or more is considered high
• Choose foods with 5%DV or less in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol
• Choose foods with no (0g) trans fat
Healthful Nutrition Tips
• Choose soft margarines (tub or spray) in moderate amounts instead of solid shortenings, hard margarines (stick or spread).
• Choose olive, canola, soybean, corn or sunflower oils instead of coconut and palm kernel oils.
• Limit organ meats, egg yolks, beef, lamb, animal fat and skin in your diet.
• Choose lean meats without skin and fat (skinless/boneless chicken, white turkey meat without skin), and include fish in your diet.
• Choose skim (non fat) milk and milk products.
• Include whole grain breads/cereals/rice, fruits and vegetables in your diet.
• Read the Nutrition Facts label before buying food and check the ingredients list. Choose foods that are 5%DV or less in total fat, cholesterol, saturated fat and have NO trans fat. If you eat more than the serving size, you will be eating more than what is listed on the Nutrition Facts label.
• Keep in mind that some foods will have no trans fat but still be high in saturated fat or cholesterol. Keep your total fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol to a minimum.
Healthful Snack Suggestions
• Fresh fruit
• Fruit bars
• Oven baked bagel or pita chips with salsa
• Microwave baked potato topped with salsa
• Popcorn made from scratch using Canola Oil
• Low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit
• Edamame (soy beans)
• Quesadillas (soft tortillas with low-fat mozzarella cheese)
• Vegetables with fat-free dip
• Whole grain cereals
• Whole grain cereals
1 block tofu, drained well and mashed
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 small carrot, grated
4 egg whites
2 cans tuna in water, drained
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp shoyu, low sodium
1/2 cup chopped green onions
Combine all ingredients together, form into patties and fry in a non stick pan without oil. If needed, you can use a non stick spray.