Trans fat 101

Get the facts on trans fats

Trans fat 101

Source: Best Health Magazine, Spring 2008

Some meats and dairy products contain naturally occurring trans fats, but the majority of trans fatty acids come from partially hydrogenated ingredients in many commercially fried and breaded products. Foods that may contain trans fats include fish sticks, packaged oriental noodles, snack puddings, microwave popcorns, many hard margarines and partially hydrogenated, commercial baked goods such as doughnuts, cookies and snacks. (In some of these, trans fatty acids make up as much as 45 percent of the fat content, according to Health Canada.)

The hydrogenation process transforms unsaturated liquid oils and fats into semi-solids, enhancing their shelf life and taste. But that same process makes them even more dangerous than saturated fats. That’s because trans fats deliver a one-two punch: They boost bad LDL cholesterol levels linked to heart disease, while lowering heart-protecting, good HDL cholesterol. Trans fats can also build up over time.

Do your heart good and skip products that list trans fats on the label (look for “partially hydrogenated” or “shortening”—such as vegetable oil shortening—on the ingredient list). Review the nutrition information on the websites of your favourite restaurant chains, too.

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