Trans Fats in the Modern Diet

Trans Fats in the Modern Diet

Hydrogenated vegetable oils (the biggest source of trans fats) are cheap and have a long shelf life.

For this reason, they are found in all sorts of modern processed foods.

Fortunately, because the governments and health organizations around the world have been cracking down on trans fats, consumption has gone down in recent years.

In 2003, the average US adult consumed 4.6 grams of artificial trans fats per day. This has now been reduced to 1.3 grams per day (41, 42).

In Europe, the Mediterranean countries were found to have the lowest intakes of trans fats. This may partly explain their low risk of cardiovascular disease (43, 44Trusted Source).

The FDA only recently decided to remove the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status for trans fats, even though these studies have been out for many, many years.

However… even though artificial trans fat consumption is lower than before, it is still way too high and should be reduced to zero.

BOTTOM LINE:
Consumption of trans fats has gone down significantly in recent years. However, current intake is still high enough to cause harm.
How to Avoid Trans Fats
Big improvements have been made in recent years, although trans fats are still present in many processed foods.

In the US, manufacturers can label their products “trans fat free” as long as there is less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving.

You can see how a few a “trans fat free” cookies could quickly add up to harmful amounts.

To make sure you’re avoiding trans fats, read labels. Don’t eat foods that have the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on the ingredients list.

Unfortunately, reading labels isn’t enough in all cases. Some processed foods (like regular vegetable oils) can contain trans fats, without any indication on the label or ingredients list.

One US study that analyzed store-bought soybean and canola oils found that 0.56% to 4.2% of the fats were trans fats, without any indication on the packaging (45).

In order to avoid trans fats, the best thing you can do is eliminate processed foods from your diet.

Choose real butter instead of margarine, and olive oil or coconut oil instead of harmful vegetable oils… and make time for home-cooked meals instead of fast food.

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