You've probably heard that eating a lot of trans fats is as bad as or even worse than eating too much saturated fat. Studies suggest that trans fats raise “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower “good” HDL cholesterol, therefore increasing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Trans fats are produced when a vegetable oil is hydrogenated, a process used to make liquid oil solid. This process improves the oil's shelf life and the stability of baked goods and processed foods.
Reduce your intake of foods that contain trans fats
You'll find trans fats in hydrogenated margarines, shortenings and spreads as well as deep-fried, processed and snack foods, such as chips, waffles, doughnuts, pastries, cookies, crackers. Fast-food products are also usually high in trans fats, so keep an eye out for foods that are breaded, deep-fried fish and french fries.
Canadian food labels require the listing of trans fats content, but some companies already use them on their products. You can also identify trans fats in foods by looking for the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening on the ingredient list.
If the ingredient list isn't clear, you can do a little math to figure out a product's trans fats content. On current food labels, there is usually a total fat content per serving, then the saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat listed beneath it. If the total of those components doesn't equal the total fat content, most of what's missing are trans fats. For example:
Total fat 8 g
Polyunsaturates 1.8 g
Monounsaturates 2.7 g
Saturates 2.2 g
The total of the three types of fat is 6.7 g. The difference between 6.7 and 8 is 1.3, which will largely be trans fats.
Originally published in Canadian Living's cookbook special, Eat Right for Life.
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