4 things you should know
By now you’ve heard about trans fats so much, you may start to tune out how dangerous they can be for your child. We hear these buzz words all the time and it’s hard to tell any more what is and isn’t a serious threat.
How bad are trans fats for you? Toward the end of last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made the decision that hydrogenated oils may no longer be generally recognized as safe. That means if a final determination is made (which should be any time now), food manufacturers could no longer sell food products with trans fats or use them as an ingredient without prior FDA approval.
Here are four things you should know about trans fats to help you the next time you’re out shopping or ordering at a restaurant:
1. What are trans fats?
Trans fats are one of the “bad fats.” Some do occur naturally in foods, but most are created by adding hydrogen molecules to liquid vegetable oils. You’ll see them on food labels as “partially hydrogenated oils” or “hydrogenated oils.”
2. Where are they found?
Companies use trans fats because they’re inexpensive, last longer than other fats (increased shelf life), and give foods a good taste and texture. Trans fats are most often found in processed foods or fast foods. Examples of trans fats are fried foods, baked goods, shortening and margarines, canned frosting and baking mixes.
3. Why are they so bad?
Trans fats increase your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and decrease your HDL (“good”) cholesterol. They can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke, and there’s an association between trans fat consumption and higher risk for Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
4. What should we do?
- Look for trans fats on nutrition facts labels and look for partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list. Try to avoid trans fat (0g and no partially hydrogenated oils).
- Cook and eat at home as much as possible.
- Limit processed foods, especially at snack time. Reach for fruit, almonds or a light string cheese instead of chips or processed snacks.
- If eating out, choose baked or grilled proteins and watch “extras” like breads and sauces that may contain trans fat.
Trans fats are dangerous, but the good news is you can protect your kids from them. Start today by reading nutrition facts labels, ingredient lists, and eating at home as often as possible.