Trans fats, also known as hydrogenated oils, are synthetically produced by adding hydrogen atoms to unsaturated vegetable oils. Unlike natural unsaturated or saturated fats, trans fats have no nutritional value. They have been overwhelmingly shown to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Food producers like using trans fat because it has a longer shelf life.
Does zero trans fat on the label mean that there is really no trans fat in your food product? The answer is no! According to FDA guidelines, products containing less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving can be labeled as zero trans fat. So that means that one serving of zero trans fat can contain up to 0.49g of trans fat. Do the math and you can see that 0.49g of trans fat per serving can add up over the day and week. With one serving of zero trans fat at breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can rack up 1.5g grams of trans fat and that's the low end. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your trans fat intake to less than 2g a day. One serving of zero trans fat for 3 meals a day puts you at about 75% of the AHA recommended level of trans fat intake. In one year, you could add up 547.5g consumed under the guise of zero trans fat. That sounds like a whole lot more than zero to me.
Major sources of trans fat include:
- Cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, breads, and other baked goods
- Animal products prepared in partially hydrogenated oils
- Fried potatoes
- Potato chips, corn chips, popcorn
- Household shortening
- Salad dressings
- Breakfast cereals
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