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Trans fat

Since 2006, the law requires all food products to list the amount of trans fat they contain in their nutrition labels. What exactly is trans fat? In what ways is trans fat bad for your health?

Trans fat is a type of hydrogenated fatty acid. Hydrogenation is the process of injecting hydrogen into oil, transforming the double bonds between carbons of the oil molecules into single bonds. Hydrogenated oil, or trans fat, can take half-solid and solid form at room temperature. In other words, trans fat is a type of man-made fat.

Trans fat not only keeps food fresh for an extended period of time, but it also behaves like a preservative that gives food a longer shelf life. Moreover, it can add flavor and render food texture flaky and fluffy. Trans fat is usually found in crackers, snacks with layered crusts, baked goods, desserts, cakes, fries, fried chicken, etc.

The structure of trans fat is similar to that of saturated fat, which is usually found in animal fat; however, trans fat is much worse for your health for it is difficult to eliminate from the body. It can accumulate within the body, increasing levels of “bad” cholesterol and decreasing levels of “good” cholesterol, increasing risks of stroke and heart attack.

Because trans fat is an unhealthful type of oil, many food processors have stopped using it in their products, which certainly is good news to us consumers. However, trans fat is still found in some food products, so we should pay attention to nutrition fact labels when shopping for food to avoid foods high in saturated fat and trans fat.



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