What is trans fat?
Trans fats are a type of fatty acid found in the foods we eat. Fatty acids are a source of energy for your body. Fatty acids are found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, animal fats and fish oil. Not all fatty acids are good. For example, a moderate amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in your diet can actually benefit your health. However, trans fats are an example of harmful fatty acids. Trans fats are often used in processed foods and commercial baked goods because they are cheap and have a long shelf life.
Why are trans fats harmful?
Trans fats can raise the level of "bad" cholesterol (known as low density lipoprotein, or LDL) cholesterol in your body
Eating trans fats also increases the risk of developing heart disease.
What foods contain trans fats?
Small amounts of trans fats are naturally found in foods like milk, butter, and animal meat. But this type of trans fat does not seem to be as harmful to your health as the trans fats found in commercial baked goods, fried foods and fast foods. Examples of foods often containing trans fats include:
Many foods from fast food restaurants are also high in trans fat.
How to avoid trans fat
Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet instead of processed foods. Fruits and vegetables are inherently free of trans fats.
You should also read food labels carefully to see if there are trans fats
Trans fats will appear in the ingredient list under the name "hydrogenated vegetable oil" or "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil".
When reading a nutrition label, keep in mind that companies are allowed to list trans fat as "0 grams" if the product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. This means your food may contain a certain amount of trans fat even if the nutrition label says "0 grams" per serving. Many foods now have "no trans fat" written on their packaging.
Some fast food restaurants no longer use trans fats, but it is better to ask before you order.
Try to eat foods that are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats instead of foods high in trans fats. Monounsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils like olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil and sesame oil.
They are also found in foods like avocado, peanut butter, many nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil and safflower oil. They are also found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and trout.
How much trans fat is enough?
Ideally, you should eat 0 grams of trans fat per day. The American Heart Association recommends that your daily calories come from trans fats, which should not be more than 1 percent of total calories. If you consume about 2,000 calories per day, you should eat less than 2 grams of trans fat per day.
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