Trans fats are found in foods in two broad categories: naturally occurring and artificially produced. Natural trans fats are found in the guts of some animals, and foods derived from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products) may contain small amounts of these fats. In an industrial process, artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are produced by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils in order to make them more solid.
Food packages usually list partially hydrogenated oils as one of the ingredients. In November 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in human food.
Why do some companies use trans fats in their products?
Trans fats are easy to use, inexpensive to produce, and have a long shelf life. Trans fats contribute to the taste and texture of foods. Several restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry food because oils containing trans fats can be reused in commercial fryers many times. The use of trans fats in food service establishments has been reduced or restricted in several countries (e.g., Denmark, Switzerland, and Canada) and local jurisdictions (e.g., California, New York City, Baltimore, and Montgomery County, Maryland).
What are the health effects of trans fats?
Trans fats increase your bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and reduce your good cholesterol (HDL). Trans fats are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, it is associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Why have trans fats become so popular if they have such negative health effects?
Prior to 1992 little was known about the dangers of trans fats. Trans fats were identified as having adverse health effects in the 1990s. As a result of these findings, the FDA established labeling regulations for trans fats and consumption has decreased in recent decades in the United States, however, some people may consume high levels of trans fats as a result of their food choices.
What foods contain trans fats?
In addition to fried foods like doughnuts and baked goods such as cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers, and stick margarines and other spreads, trans fats can be found in many foods. A look at the Nutrition Facts panel can help you determine the amount of trans fats in a particular packaged food. It is possible for products to be labeled as “0 grams of trans fat” if they contain zero grams to less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Trans fats can also be spotted by reading ingredient lists and looking for ingredients labeled as “partially hydrogenated oils.”.
Are trans fats naturally occurring?
There are trace amounts of trans fats in some meat and dairy products, including beef, lamb, and butterfat. Insufficient studies have been conducted to determine whether naturally occurring trans fats have the same detrimental effects on cholesterol levels as trans fats derived from industrial sources.
How much trans fat should I consume daily?
In order to reduce the amount of trans fat in your diet, the American Heart Association recommends limiting the consumption of foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The body also recommends preparing lean meats and poultry without added saturated or trans fat.
How can I limit my consumption of trans fats?
You should read the Nutrition Facts panel on the food you buy at the store and, when dining out, ask what kind of oil is used to cook the food. Substitute monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats for trans fats in your diet.