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Trans Fat

Fats that Strike Out

 The Pitch: When it comes to fats, the difference between partially hydrogenated oil and trans fat can be confusing. Sometimes liquid fat (oil) undergoes a hydrogenation process in order to make it a semi-solid spreadable butter and extend the shelf-life of foods. This type of fat is called partially hydrogenated oil and contains trans fat. Trans fat has shown to lower your “good” HDL cholesterol and raise your “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. This can lead towards health problems such as heart disease. Master the game plan by learning these fat stats and avoid striking out with their tricky plays.

 Curveball: It is important to check the ingredients list on the Nutrition Facts label for hydrogenated oils.  Keep in mind, even if the Nutrition Facts label lists 0 grams trans fat, the product is allowed by law to contain up to 0.49 grams trans fat.

 Change Up: Trans fats are commonly found in processed foods such as baked desserts, fried foods, and savory snacks such as chips or crackers. However, these fats may also be found naturally in grazing animals. Due to the natural occurrence of trans fat in foods such as milk products, eggs and meat, it is expected to find a trivial amount of trans fat in the diet.

The Outfield: Catch healthy fats in the dining hall by aiming for healthier alternatives. Below is a list of some common foods that contain some amount of trans fats and are labeled following the FDA regulations.

Food category

Range of trans fat per serving (grams)

Margarine and spreads

0.0-3.0 g

Cookies

0.0-3.5 g

Frozen pies

0.0-4.5 g

Frozen pizza

0.0-5.0 g

Savory snacks

0.0-7.0 g

Keep your eye on the ball and you’ll make the right call

 Author: Courtney Lee                    Reviewed By: Dr. Peter Gillies– Director, New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health
 References: Ratnayake, W. and Zehaluk, C. “Trans Fatty Acids in Foods and Their Labeling Regulations.” Healthful Lipids. Oi-Ming Lai and Casimir C . Akoh. Champaign, IL: AOCS, 1-31. Print.Trans Fat. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/fat/transfat.html. Accessed on February 17, 2012. Trans Fat at-a-glance. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079609.htm. Accessed on February 19, 2012.
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