5 Sources of hidden trans fats

5 Sources of Hidden Trans Fats to Avoid at All Costs

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After more than 60 years of encouraging folks to eat trans fats—or partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs)—the FDA is phasing them out of our food supply. Eating them puts you at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.1 And like we predicted a few years ago… Things aren’t changing fast enough.

They’re giving companies until 2018 to swap out trans fats for healthier alternatives. Don’t wait for the FDA to save you. Many foods still have trans fats lurking in them. And you may have no clue. That’s because a company can list zero trans fats even if it isn’t true. As long as it has 0.5 grams per serving or less, they can say their food doesn’t have any. Thanks FDA!2 Big Food will use this loophole to their advantage for as long as they can.

Here are five sources of hidden trans fats to avoid at all costs.

1. Microwave Popcorn: The most popular brands of popcorn still have up to seven grams per bag…3 Yet they list a serving size on their website as just two tablespoons. This is to avoid telling you just how much trans fat is in a whole bag of their product.4 If that’s not bad enough… These products may contain toxic additives.

Try making homemade popcorn instead. This alternative isn’t just healthier. It tastes better. The simplest way to make it only requires three ingredients… Organic popcorn kernels, some ghee, and a pinch of salt. Or you can get creative and add your favorite seasonings.

2. Coffee Creamer: The label for this one lists PHO as the third ingredient… Right after water and corn syrup solids.5 Yet you won’t find the amount of trans fat listed in the nutrition facts.6

Any product with hydrogenated oils in it contains trans fat. For non-dairy creamers, one serving may contain only 0.5 grams… But how likely are you to measure out the serving size of one teaspoon? Or use only one mini-cup in your coffee?

Let’s say you drink three cups of coffee in one day… And you add about a tablespoon of creamer to each cup… That’s three teaspoons. This would mean you’re downing about 4.5 grams of trans fats from coffee alone.

3. Canned Icing: There is nothing nutritious about refined sugar, artificial flavors, or trans fats. Betty Crocker lists partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil as the sixth ingredient in their Whipped Fluffy White Frosting.7 The serving size is two tablespoons.

Going back to the estimate of 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving… A piece of cake piled high with this icing could have up to four grams of trans fat. But it’s not on the label… Or their website. 

4. Snack Cakes: It’s not just the sugar in the desserts you need to worry about…The biggest producer of these treats in the U.S. doesn’t list ingredients or nutrition facts on their website.8 One look at any of their labels at the store …and you’ll see why they want to keep it a secret.

Many of their most popular snacks—like Zebra Cakes—list partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil as the second or third ingredient down. This means there is a significant amount in the food compared to the other ingredients. In other words, you’re eating mostly trans fats. 

5. Refrigerated Cookie Dough: Most of us crave a warm cookie from the oven every now and then. And when you do, it’s simple to grab a package from your store’s refrigerator. But these are one of the most dangerous sources of trans fats you can find.

Even cookies that are marketed as “natural” still have trans fats in them. And they don’t try to hide it… Margarine is right on the ingredients list.9

You might not think these are such bad choices… But nobody’s ever happy with just two cookies. The more you eat, the more trans fat—and sugar—you’re consuming. That’s a double whammy for inflammation that raises heart disease risk. Of course, we don’t recommend indulging in cookies too often. But when you do, make them from scratch. It’s a lot less work than you might think and well worth the effort.

These aren’t the only foods that put your health at risk with trans fats… Just the worst. But there are easy ways to avoid these additives. Start by passing up any boxed foods—frozen or otherwise—at your grocery store.

Health Watch readers know that trans fats extend the shelf life of foods. So another way is to check the expiration date. If it’s years away, the product likely contains trans fats.

In Good Health,

Angela Salerno
Publisher, INH Health Watch

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1 http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Trans-Fats_UCM_301120_Article.jsp
2 http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079609.htm
3 http://www.amazon.com/Pop-Secret-Theater-Microwavable-Popcorn/dp/B00O92NBQU/ref=lp_2598758011_1_1/190-4124695-8197540?srs=2598758011&ie=UTF8&qid=1435173515&sr=8-1
4 http://www.popsecret.com/products/new-flavors/
5 https://www.coffee-mate.com/Products/Default.aspx#b936f373-d1f9-4af0-a4da-32221f22135e
6 https://www.coffee-mate.com/Products/Default.aspx#b936f373-d1f9-4af0-a4da-32221f22135e
7 http://www.bettycrocker.com/products/frosting/whippedfluffywhitefrosting
8 http://www.littledebbie.com/www/findlocation?pid=4160
9 http://www.publix.com/p/RIO-PCI-139590