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Daily Bite: Are Trans Fats Really So Bad?

October 26th, 2012 by eHealthGuide

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Many trendy new diets have gained popularity thanks to celebrity testimonials and media coverage. There has been lots of talk about the evils of a high fat diet, particularly a diet that includes trans fats. What are trans fats and where do they come from?

Trans fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil in order to force it to solidify. They are often found in fried foods, snack foods and baked goods. Trans fats have gotten a bad reputation lately, and for good reason.

Trans fats are hard on the heart because they lower good (HDL) cholesterol and raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. These fats are also linked to a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Food companies keep using them, though, because they are cheap, easy to use and give food products a longer shelf life.

Try to buy foods that don't contain trans fats. The next time you go to the grocery store, read a food's nutrition label to check for Trans Fat. Buyer Beware: If the product contains less than .5 grams of Trans Fat, the manufacturer is allowed to say that it doesn't contain any. Check the list of ingredients. If it lists "partially hydrogenated oils," then the product contains trans fats.

Animal products also contain trace amounts of natural trans fats, although it is unknown if these fats have the same negative health effects. To be on the safe side, opt for lean meat and dairy products. You can also choose to use products that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to boost your heart health.

For more information about nutrition and healthy eating, visit our Nutrition forum.

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