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Disorders of Lipid Metabolism: Trans Fat Facts

Posted Apr 30 2008 11:01pm


You may already know that saturated fats found in animal fat, like marbling in steak, sausage, cheese and butter can raise LDL cholesterol levels and clog arteries. Trans fat is similarly bad for our hearts. You should eat as little trans fat as possible.

What is Trans Fat?

Trans fat is formed when a liquid vegetable oil is partially hydrogenated. This chemical process changes a liquid fat to a more solid fat. It also keeps the fat from spoiling quickly.

Why Limit Trans Fat?

Trans fat raises LDL cholesterol levels. It may also lower “good” HDL cholesterol. People who eat more trans fat are at greater risk of heart disease.

Tips for Limiting Trans Fat:

Read food labels: You’ll want to check the ingredients list and the Nutrition Facts panel. The Nutrition Facts panel lists the amount of saturated fat and trans fat in one serving. Choose foods that are low in both of these fats. The ingredients list will show if a food contains partially hydrogenated oils. If you see this kind of oil, the food has trans fat. Note that if a product contains partially hydrogenated oils but has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the Nutrition Facts panel will list 0 grams trans fat. However, if you eat more than one serving of that food, you may get a lot of trans fat. Do not choose a food just because it is labeled “trans fat free.” Read the Nutrition Facts to see how much saturated fat the food has. A product with 6 grams of saturated fat and no trans fat has similar LDL raising effects as a product that has 3 grams of saturated fat and 3 grams of trans fat.

More Tips to Keep Trans Fat Intake Low

When you eat margarine or a “buttery” spread, pick a tub or liquid product. Look for spreads with less than a total of 2 grams from saturated and trans fat per serving.Be careful with cookies, pies, doughnuts, some crackers and snack products. These baked goods and convenience foods may be made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.Avoid fried fast foods. These are often fried in partially hydrogenated fats.Keep the sum of your saturated and trans fat below 7% of the calories you eat.

Use the list below to find your limits:

If you eat this many calories /Keep your daily total saturated and trans fat to no more than ___ grams.

2,400 /18
2,000 /15
1,800 /14
1,500 /12
1,200 /9
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