It's pretty common knowledge that trans fats are bad for us and we should avoid them. Yet many of us may not know why this is so important and how vigilant we may need to be in avoiding them.
Trans fats are essentially refined oils, or, fats in liquid form that have the element Hydrogen chemically bonded into them. This practice became (and still is) very popular in the mass production food world because hydrogenating fats allows them to be practically invulnerable to rancidity, thus allowing shelf lives to approach immortality. The downside: the speedy delivery of your own mortality. Not necessarily a good payoff if you ask me.
Here's the trick: In order to be sure that you are avoiding all forms of trans fats in the health food you eat, you need to be doing much more than just glancing at the nutritional information on packaging. You need to read the ingredients. The FDA actually allows manufacturers to label their products as having "0" (that's zero) trans fats if there is .5 or less grams of trans fats per serving. What ends up happening, however, is the shrinkage of serving sizes in order to capitalize on the "zero trans fat" buzz. In other words, most people eat far more than the specified serving size, thus thinking they are not consuming any of this dangerous substance called trans fats.
We have to pay double attention to the actual ingredients listed, and if anything in the vein of "hydrogenated oils", "partially hydrogenated", or "shortening" pops up, drop it and run. Even when the package may tout a calming "zero trans fat" declaration - if any of those aforementioned key-words are in the ingredients - the food has trans fat.
Author: Shannon Dabannon