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Trans Fat is Harmful to Your Health

by Ron Kurtus (revised 6 April 2012)

A type of fat called "trans fat" is much more harmful than other types of fat in your diet. A problem is that it is sometimes difficult to find out which foods have trans fat. You should try to avoid foods with this type of fat.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions. Health Disclaimer



Trans fat worse than other fat

In general, too much fat in your diet is not healthy. Trans fat is worse than even saturated fat, in that it raises levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease levels of good cholesterol (HDL).

Scientists at Harvard's School of Public Health estimate that trans fats contribute to as many as 30,000 cardiovascular deaths each year. The Center for Science in the Public Interest consumer group has been lobbying the Food and Drug Administration to list this artery-clogging fat on food labels. Until the FDA takes action, you must take steps yourself to avoid this type of fat in the food you eat.

Many foods have trans fat

Trans fats are created when vegetable oils are hydrogenated, a process that hardens them into solids or semi-solids. Hydrogenated oils show up in many snacks, including cakes, cookies, fried foods, microwave popcorn, and in margarine (both the stick and the tub varieties).

Study labels to avoid trans fats

It pays to study labels, even those that read cholesterol-free or low in saturated fat to make sure the items don't say they contain hydrogenated oil. Avoid foods made with even partially hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening.

Some brands of margarine are labeled "trans fat-free." If you can't find one, choose a liquid or semi-soft margarine over the stick variety. The harder the spread, the more trans fat it contains.

Summary

Trans fat is worse for your health than saturated fat. Hydrogenated oils are a major source of trans fat. You should study food labels to avoid food with hydrogenated oils and trans fat.


Your health is important to your family


Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

American Heart Association Information about heart disease prevention and treatment.

The International Food Information Council Foundation Information on nutrition research, including material on trans fat.

General Health Resources

Books

Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol by Mary G. Enig. Bethesda Press (2000) $29.95 - Well- researched guide, answering questions about fats.

Eater's Choice: A Food Lover's Guide to Lower Cholesterol by Ron Goor, Nancy Goor, and Barry Estabrook. Houghton Mifflin (1999) $17.00 - Provides useful information about diet and heart disease, including a discussion of trans fats. Includes collection of  low-fat recipes.

Top-rated books on Healthy Diets


Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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