Trans fatty acids, formed when liquid oils are treated with hydrogen to make them solid (i.e. for margarine or shortening), raise levels of “bad” cholesterol and may even be as bad or worse for your heart than saturated fat.
The federal Institute of Medicine has cited several studies showing that trans fats can increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL-“bad fat”), and may lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL-“good fat”) – a risk factor for heart disease.
While other types of fats (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) may be listed on the current “Nutrition Facts” label, trans fats are not. The FDA is proposing new regulations that will require food makers to list all fats (including trans fats) by the end of this year.
So how do you know if there are trans fats in the foods you eat now? The best way is to study food labels and avoid foods that include “hydrogenated fat” and “partially hydrogenated fat”. Until the new label is finalized, you can also estimate the trans fat with some simple math: Add up the grams of saturate, mono, and polyunsaturated fats, and subtract from the total amount of fat. What’s left over is the trans fat.
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