How to Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats add flavor and increase the shelf life of foods, so it’s an ideal ingredient for restaurants and food manufacturers. The body treats trans fat like saturated fat, which clogs arteries, raises your cholesterol, and increases your risk of heart disease and other conditions. Trans fat raises your LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers your HDL (good) cholesterol because it is indigestible and therefore stays in the body and clogs your arteries. To avoid trans fat, read labels and avoid fried and most prepackaged foods.
Checking the Foods Carefully
Read the .A key part of healthy eating is to read the nutrition information for every food you buy. Look on the label for how much trans fat is in a product. Ideally, you should be eating a product with zero trans fat.
- You can find trans fat listed underneath fat and saturated fat.
Check the ingredients for hydrogenated oils.Manufacturers now are required to list trans fat content on their labels. Look for the phrases "partially hydrogenated," "hydrogenated," or "shortening." These types of ingredients contain trans fat.
- If a product says 0 grams (0.0 oz) of trans fat, it might not be zero. Look for the word "hydrogenated" in the ingredients. This means the food contains trans fat. The FDA allows food manufacturers to list trans fat as 0 grams (0.0 oz) if it contains less than 0.5 grams (0.02 oz) of trans fat. Multiple servings of foods with hydrogenated oils, even if it says zero grams of trans fat, can negatively affect your health.
Ask your server what oils are used.When eating out, ask the server what oil is used to prepare your food. If possible, request a healthier oil. Another option is to skip the deep fried foods and opt instead for grilled, steamed, sauteed, or baked.
- Steamed and grilled items are the least likely to contain trans fats.
- Be careful with added items such as salad dressing and condiments, which can contain trans fats. A condiment made with olive oil is a good choice.
Avoiding Common Foods Containing Trans Fat
Avoid prepackaged baked goods.Most baked goods that you buy already baked, prepackaged, or in ready to make mixes contain trans fat. This includes crusts and frosting. Read the label to make sure, but cutting out processed baked goods is one of the best ways to significantly reduce your trans fat.
- Baked goods with trans fat include cookies, cakes, pies, donuts, muffins, croissants, breads, and biscuits. You should also be careful with canned biscuits, canned cinnamon rolls, and frozen pizza crusts.
- Many people think making their own baked goods is healthier, but many commercial cake and muffin mixes contain trans fat. Make sure to check the label or for products that state they have no trans fat or hydrogenated oils.
- The cheaper the product the more chance it contains trans fat. Most packaged commercial cake mixes contain trans fats. To avoid trans fats, buy your ingredients individually and read labels carefully.
Refrain from buying prepackaged snacks.Many snack foods that you can buy in the store contain trans fat. Many are cooked or fried in hydrogenated oils or shortening or use trans fat to help maintain flavor. Choose brands with better ingredients.
- Potato chips, corn chips, tortilla chips, crackers, pudding cups, and popcorn are snacks that contain trans fat. Many frozen snacks, like pizza rolls or mozzarella sticks, also contain trans fat.
Cut out fried foods.Deep fried foods often contain trans fat. This includes foods that are deep fried and then frozen, or fried foods that you buy in restaurants. Instead, choose baked or grilled foods.
- French fries, fried chicken and other meats, fried vegetables, and fried baked goods all commonly contain trans fat.
- Anything fried and pre-packaged contains trans fat and in large amounts.
Eliminate non-dairy creamer and margarine.While dairy products like milk and butter don’t contain trans fat, many dairy replacement foods do. Nondairy coffee creamers often contain partially hydrogenated oils. Stick margarines and some soft margarines also contain those ingredients.
- This is the only reason that eating butter may be a good idea. Butter made in a natural way contains little trans fat.
Avoid fast food.Fast food staples commonly contain trans fat. French fries and onion rings are usually fried in hydrogenated oils. Fried fish and chicken used in sandwiches, chicken tenders, or fish sticks also are usually contain trans fat.
Cut out frozen and creamy beverages.Baked goods and donuts aren’t the only things you get in restaurants that contain trans fat. Milkshakes, creamy coffees, hot chocolates, and ice cream-based drinks can contain high amounts of trans fat.
- The creamer used by coffee shops may have less trans fats than the ones you find in the store, but they still have some trans fats. Ask for fat free milk in your coffee instead.
Reduce your intake of jerky.Jerky and other meat-based snacks may contain protein, but they also can contain multiple grams of trans fat. Try to cut out processed meat snacks, which can also contain unhealthy amounts of sodium and other additives.
Limiting Foods That May Contain Trans Fat
Check granola and breakfast grains carefully.Granola bars, breakfast bars, and cereals are generally thought of as healthy, but they can be hiding trans fat. Some may also may state they are fat free, but contain hydrogenated oils.
- Prepackaged oatmeal can also contain trans fat. If it's high in calories, then it likely has trans fat.
- Read the label carefully and make sure you’re buying granola bars with good ingredients.
- You can also make your grains or granola bars from scratch. It might take longer, but you can avoid trans fats.
Choose natural peanut butter.Many peanut butters contain hydrogenated oils, along with high amounts of sugar, sodium, and saturated fat. Read the labels on peanut butter jars and choose natural brands that don't contain trans fat.
- Some health food stores allow you to make your own peanut butter by putting the nuts into a grinder. This is the best way to ensure the peanut butter is pure.
Read the labels on candy.Many candies, especially those that are not made with chocolate, have trans fat. Fruit-flavored candies, gummies, candies with chewy textures, and candy coatings often contain partially hydrogenated oils.
- Many candies filled with cream contain trans fat.
Eat tropical oils sparingly.Companies are trying to phase out trans fat, so they are using other oils in place of them. Tropical oils, like coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils, are popular substitutes. While they don’t contain trans fat, they do contain high amounts of saturated fats. Limit the amount of foods that you eat with these oils. Instead, try olive, peanut, and canola oils.
- Read labels and try to choose foods that don’t contain these oils.
- A trick to know if it is a trans fat is its consistency. Trans fat will become solid if left in the fridge. Some coconut oils are pure while others will solidify.
Be cautious with frozen meals.Many frozen meals are healthy, but many contain trans fat, even if they are from a healthy, weight-friendly brand. Meats may be fried in hydrogenated oils, breadings or sauces may also contain the unhealthy oils or shortening. Trans fat is also added to help them last longer.
- Frozen pizza also generally contains trans fat in the crust.
- Read the label carefully to make sure they do not contain these ingredients.
Limit your intake of ice cream.Dairy products naturally contain trace amounts of trans fat due to their natural fat content. This type of trans fat isn’t believed to be as dangerous, but ice cream and other dairy products still have high amounts of calories and fat, so you should limit how much you eat.
Lower the amount of red meat you eat.Beef also naturally contains trans fat. Eating burgers, ground beef, beef hot dogs, and steaks places trans fat into your diet. To help avoid trans fat, eat less red meat than other types of meats.
- Try to eat fish instead of meat. Canned fish is a good option.
Video: Avoid all trans fats
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