Home Stay Informed The Bad Artificial Trans Fats

Mandatory labeling of trans fats on manufactured foods

In January 2006, the US government began requiring the labeling of trans fats on manufactured foods.

Unfortunately, portion amounts of less than half a gram do not have to be declared so consumers must look carefully at the ingredient list. When the term “partially hydrogenated” is present, the product contains artificial trans fats and should be avoided. The term "hydrogenated" is also suspect since some companies use the terms interchangeably.

Restaurant foods typically contain high amounts of trans fats but restaurants are not required to adhere to trans fat labeling laws.

The danger of trans fats

In clinical studies, artificial trans fats were shown to increase the risk of heart disease because they raise total blood cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Trans fats also trigger inflammation.

Naturally-occurring saturated fats (like butter, palm oil and coconut oil) also raise the amount of cholesterol in the blood.

American Heart Association recommendations for saturated fats:

  • Limit saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent of total daily calories
  • Limit trans fat intake to less than 1 percent of total daily calories

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced by the body but can also be ingested with food.

The cholesterol created by the body forms digestive juices, helps to develop brain and nerve conductors and is important for other functions. Excess cholesterol is a problem because it has no natural “exit” from the body.

Naturally occurring trans fats

Healthy, natural trans fats are not at all the same as unhealthy, artificial trans fats. Natural trans fats can be found in certain animal products like meat or milk. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is an example of a healthy, natural trans fat. Grass fed animals produce significantly more CLA than animals that are fed corn. Preliminary research suggests that CLA may reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.

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