Here are 20 kid foods that contain trans fats. Let it be known that there is no safe amount of synthetic trans fats. Eating synthetic trans fats, or any partially hydrogenated oil, are closely tied to increased LDL (bad) cholesterol, Alzheimers disease, heart disease, poor memory and neurological damage, to name a few. Suffice it to say, this is one ingredient where the “everything in moderation rule” does not count.
Synthetic trans fats have been in our food system for just over 100 years. One of the most recognizable labels of trans fats is Crisco, which starting make its way into kitchen cupboards right around 1911. One hundred year is a long time! But we humans have been around a little longer. As a specie, we’ve learned a few things about what makes our body healthy and what makes our body unhealthy. Usually, if a food is found in nature – and hasn’t been processed or chemically altered – our health thrives. And yes, this is where the “everything in moderation rule” applies. The only exception to this rule is sugar, but that’s another topic. On the flip side, if a food has been mucked up by refining, stripping, heating, bleaching, deodorizing, genetically modifying or anti-bioticing (I invented that word right now), our health deteriorates.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), food packages can state that they don’t contain trans fats as long as they contain .5 grams or less. Yes, that’s right. Foods can actually make it appear they don’t contain this harmful ingredient…even though they do.
The only way to know if a food contains trans fats is to turn it over and read the ingredients. If you see the words “partially hydrogenated:” on the ingredient label, that particular food contains some amount of synthetic trans fat.
We’ve made progress! A lot of the “grown up” foods that once contained synthetic trans fats don’t anymore. A lot of companies have actually eliminated trans fats from their products entirely. This is fantastic and proof that it can be done without killing a company’s bottom line.
What really surprised me was the number of kid foods that still contain trans fats. But business is business, right? The organization that disappoints me the most remains The Girls Scouts. Not all, but some of the Girl Scout Cookies, including the ever-addicting Thin Mints are a hideout for trans fats. Ironically, the Girl Scouts promote healthy values, including empowerment, leadership and advocacy. Yet the primary money maker remains a product that, in fact, lends itself to the deterioration of health, particularly our youth.
In an email response, a spokesperson for the Girl Scouts wrote me, “I can confirm that Girl Scouts of the USA is proud that all Girl Scout Cookies have “zero trans fat per serving,” with the same great taste that has made them one of America’s favorite treats over the years. All varieties contain less than 0.5 grams trans fat per serving, which meets the FDA guidelines for the “zero trans fat” designation.”
Oh boy! When was the last time you’ve ever seen someone eat just two cookies – one serving – of Thin Mints (two cookies)? That’s one serving and the limit for the “zero trans fat” designation. In other words, after those two cookies, you’ve hit the tipping point to measurable trans fats – at least according to the FDA.
I get that the cookies for this organization are a cash cow. This non-profit is on par to make well over $650 million in revenue from these cookies this year. Of that incredible amount, 25 percent is from Thin Mints alone. I’d love to see the Girl Scouts use a little of their own innovation to create a product that can actually improve, rather than harm, health.
In addition to Girl Scout cookies, here are 19 other food products that have synthetic trans fats in their ingredient list.
1. Girl Scout Cookies
2. Kraft Lunchables
3. Little Debbie Swiss Rolls
4. Totino’s Pizza Rolls
5. Ritz Crackers
6. Kellogg’s Froot Loops
7. Quaker Chewy Dipps
7. Sun Maid Yogurt Raisins
8. Fruit Roll-Ups
9. Smucker’s Uncrustables
10. Nabisco Chips Ahoy!
11. Betty Crocker Parlor Perfect
12. Hunt’s Pudding Snack Packs
13. Keebler Fudge Stripes
14. Diamond Foods Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn
15. Kellogg’s Apple Jacks
16. Hostess Cupcakes
17. General Mills Chex Mix
18. Mott’s Fruity Rolls
19. Honey Nut Cheerios Milk n Cereal Bars
20. Nabisco Nilla Wafers
Traci D Mitchell is a nationally-recognized Chicago-based nutrition coach and personal trainer and author of The Belly Burn Plan. She has been featured on the TODAY Show, Dr. Oz and Steve Harvey. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and private coaching. Interested in working with Traci? Get info here. To keep up-to-date, subscribe to her newsletter.