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Trans Fats are (Almost) History

Trans Fats are (Almost) History

For years, health and nutrition advocates have agreed on one thing: trans fats should have no part in a healthy diet. And finally, the United States government is coming around to that notion. Yesterday the FDA declared that the additive potentially poses a public health risk.

This is a big deal. A really big deal. Eventually, it’s likely that trans fats will virtually disappear from the U.S. food supply. Any manufacturer that wants to use trans fats in its products will have to get special approval from the FDA, and that kind of approval is very difficult to come by.

What are trans fats?

Trans fats raise bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol and have been linked to heart disease. They have been used in food manufacturing for well over a century, but really grew in popularity during World War II, when shoppers turned to trans fat-laden margarine because butter was being rationed. In recent years, many manufacturers and restaurants have stopped using trans fats. You won’t find any in McDonald’s french fries, Oreos, or Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

But the stuff isn’t outlawed yet, so it’s up to consumers to avoid it. Luckily, in the United States, food manufacturers are required to include information about trans fats on their nutrition labels. However, some foods are labeled “trans fat-free” when it’s not quite true. The FDA allows any food that contains less than .5 grams of trans fat in a serving to have a “trans fat-free” label, so your best bet is to avoid processed foods as much as possible.

How to tell if a product has trans fat:

If you see “partially hydrogenated” oil listed under the ingredients, the product likely contains trans fat. For those who can’t resist a little junk food, just be mindful of the labels, and scrutinize microwave popcorn, cake mixes, frostings, margarine, frozen meals and fried foods.

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Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives in Oakland, California.


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9:55PM PST on Dec 8, 2013


2:08PM PST on Nov 25, 2013


11:02AM PST on Nov 24, 2013


1:23PM PST on Nov 23, 2013

Thanks for the article.

5:18AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

I always read the nutritional value of any food to see how many fats overall it has and then how many unsaturated/polyunsaturated (i.e. good fats) before I decide whether it's edible or not. I also do avoid products with trans-fats in :)

2:17AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

their far to much fat going into our food

7:22PM PST on Nov 20, 2013

To make trans fat disappear from our foot supple would be good for the national heath.

6:43AM PST on Nov 20, 2013

Thanks for posting.

7:58AM PST on Nov 18, 2013

Thank you

7:03AM PST on Nov 17, 2013

Shared, thanks.

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