What's Wrong With Trans Fats?

When a product claims it is has zero trans fats, did you know that it could still contain up to .5 grams of trans fats per serving? That’s right, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, processed foods can claim they have no trans fats as long as it does not exceed .5 grams per serving.

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What's Wrong With Trans Fats?
What's Wrong With Trans Fats?

When a product claims it is has zero trans fats, did you know that it could still contain up to .5 grams of trans fats per serving? That’s right, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, processed foods can claim they have no trans fats as long as it does not exceed .5 grams per serving.

That is important information to know because trans fats are the worst kind of fat for your health. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend a limit of 1 gram or less per day.

Why? Because trans fats can raise your levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, and also decrease your HDL, or "good" cholesterol. The impact of trans fats can increase your risk for heart disease.

Where Trans Fats Lurk


Trans fats are lurking in many commercially made food products containing partially hydrogenated oils or shortening. Look for terms like "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated oils" in the ingredients list – these are red flags for trans fats.

These foods may contain trans fats:

  • Margarines and shortenings
  • Frying fats in processed foods
  • Deep-fried fast food, like french fries
  • Crackers, cake mixes, snack cakes, snack foods, chips, doughnuts, pie crusts, biscuits, breakfast cereals, frozen waffles, microwave popcorn, packaged cookies, and other baked and fried items

The good news is many food manufacturers are reformulating products to remove trans fats since trans fats were added to the nutrition facts panel.

Provided by Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD. Kathleen Zelman is a nationally-known nutrition correspondent, editor, and contributing writer of diet and nutrition articles. She currently serves as Director-at-Large on the ADA Board of Directors, and received the prestigious American Dietetic Association (ADA) Media Excellence Award for her contribution and commitment to educating consumers about food and nutrition issues through the media.

Blog written by UHC Smart Patient
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