If you want a healthier body this holiday season, avoid this killer ingredient. Everyone knows that trans fats are bad for us. But what a lot of people don’t know is how prevalent trans fats are in everyday foods, including “health” foods, kids’ food, convenience foods and a great many of the foods we’ll need to bake throughout the holidays.
Partially hydrogenated fats are scarcely found in nature and not something our body can handle. The primary reason trans fats are used is to keep foods stable on the shelf longer. Given the toxicity of even the smallest amount of trans fats, it’s mind boggling that they’re even permitted in foods. What’s not as surprising is that food manufacturers and marketers don’t care who they’re targeting to consume these foods.
While trans fats have to appear on the ingredient list (generally as “partially hydrogenated”), they DO NOT have to appear on the facts, which is what most of us read through, if the amount per serving is .5 grams or less. While .5 may not sounds like a lot, think of the number of servings we eat in a day, or how often do we actually stop at just one serving of something before putting the bag back in the cupboard. Even very small amounts accumulate quickly creating a devastating effect on our body in many, many ways.
How can trans fats harm your body?
- Trans fats lower HDLs (good cholesterol) and raise LDLs (bad cholesterol).
- According to The American Heart Association, trans fats have been associated with an increased risk of type-2 diabetes.
- According to a Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Study, trans fats increase fat distribution to the abdomen, creating a rounder and less healthy apple shape.
- Trans fats have been linked to free radical damage and excessive inflammation leading to digestive disorders and autoimmune diseases.
Which everyday foods contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats?
- For the Baker: Keebler Graham Cracker Crumbs, Pillsbury Pie Crusts, Keebler Ready Crust Pie Crust (Graham Cracker), Duncan Heins Cake Mixes, almost any decorating “jimmies,” Stove Top Stuffing.
- For the Weight Watcher: Lean Pockets, Healthy Choice Golden Roasted Turkey Breast, Keebler 100 Calorie Right Bites, Skinny Cow Heavenly Crisp Peanut Butter Candy Bar, Smart Ones Traditional Lasagna with Meat Sauce.
- For the Convenience Eater: Hot Pockets, Emerald Breakfast On the Go (nut blend), Betty Crocker Warm Delights, Stouffer’s Meat Loaf, Marie Calendar’s Turkey Breast with Stuffing.
- For the Entertainer: Nabisco Ritz Crackers, Chex Mix, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Pillsbury Dinner Crescent Rolls, Andes Cream de Menthe Festive Holiday Designs, Ghirardelli Limited Edition Chocolate Squares Peppermint Bark.
- For the Moms: Barnum’s Animal Crackers, Oscar Mayer Lunchables, Smuckers Uncrustables, Nabisco Chips Ahoy!, Quaker Chewy Dips, Pop Tarts, Kid Cuisine Spaghetti with Meatballs, Edy’s Slow Churned Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, Eggo Mini Waffles.
This list is in no way exhaustive – there are so many other foods that contain trans fats. That said, there are plenty that don’t. Take the time to read the ingredients on the label, not just the facts. If you see the words “partially hydrogenated,” put it back and look at a neighboring product’s ingredient list.
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Traci is a nationally recognized health and fitness expert who has been featured on The TODAY Show and Dr. Oz. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and wellness coaching, as well as private training. Contact Traci here.