What is Trans Fat?

Everyone is always talking about Trans fat (also known as the bad fat), but do you really know what it is?

Trans fat is, in fact, the worst kind of fat for your health because it both raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol. Trans fat is formed when oil is hydrogenated, or processed to become solid.

When hydrogenated fats like margarine and shortening were first invented, they became the ingredient of choice because they were cheaper, more shelf-stable, and thought to be healthier than butter. It was only recently confirmed that this fat is especially unhealthy.

Trans, or hydrogenated, fat is found in stick margarine, vegetable shortening, and fried foods. Until recently, it was also found in most commercially packaged baked goods, crackers, pastries, cookies, and many other products. However, in 2006, when it became mandatory for companies to list trans fat on food labels, many manufacturers changed their formulas to reduce the amount of trans fat their products contain.

Therefore, ALWAYS check the ingredients list on a product for “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oil of any type. If such an ingredient is present, there is still some trans fat in the food. And if the trans fat ingredients are near the top of the list, drop the box and run the other way!

Advertisements

3 Responses

  1. I was wondering what you know about fully hydrogenated oils? Is it just the fact that the oil is hydrogenated at all that makes it bad? Also, have you heard of interestified oil (I think that's how you spell it….) I found it in some tortillas….

  2. Maggie…hope this helps!! Hydrogenation is the chemical process by which liquid vegetable oil is turned into solid fat. Partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fatty acids, or trans fats, which are thought to be more harmful than saturated fats. Trans fats raise levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol. You can read more on this in my profile of trans fats. When liquid vegetable oil is fully hydrogenated, however, almost no trans fats remain. The resulting fat is even more solid, taking on a hard, waxy consistency, even at room temperature. Full hydrogenation increases the amount of saturated fat, although much of it is in the form of stearic acid, which is converted by the body to oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, which doesn't raise levels of bad cholesterol. This makes fully hydrogenated fats less harmful than partially hydrogenated fats. Food manufacturers are getting around the trans fat labeling by mixing small amounts of fully hydrogenated oil with liquid polyunsaturate oils and calling “interesterified oil.” They claim that fully hydrogenated oil is healthier. Since there is less trans fat, they can sell this product to food manufacturers for use in commercial dressings, baked goods, candies and anything else that used to have partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list.In plain english, interestification means mixing fully hydrogenated oil with liquid polyunsaturate oil to produce a consistency similar to partially hydrogenated oil, which is the source of trans fats. The solution to the trans fat problem; from the manufacturer perspective!

  3. Thanks Kelly for your info!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: