Did you know that eating just a few grams of Trans-Fats a day can send your chances of developing heart disease skyrocketing? Even worse, some very common snack foods can contain a half dozen grams of Trans-Fats per serving.
Trans-Fats were initially hailed as a modern food miracle. They made previously un-storable savory foods suddenly easy to preserve. They were significantly cheaper than their predecessors and thus ushered in a wave of inexpensive snack cakes, frozen dinners, and fast food entrees. Then, almost a decade ago, the other shoe dropped. Suddenly it was discovered that Trans-Fats posed a number of very serious health risks. They were linked to everything from stroke to diabetes to obesity.
Now, the Federal government has mandated that food manufacturers label their products to disclose Trans-Fat content, but there are loopholes nonetheless. Combined with an apathetic public that is largely ignorant of the risks that Trans-Fats pose, the result has been a continued prevalence of Trans-Fats on the market ready for consumption.
Listed below are some of the most dangerous foods, how much Trans-Fats they generally contain per serving, and where to find them. Avoid them at all costs, as they can have dire consequences for your health.
1 Fried and Battered Foods
Trans-Fats are commonly created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil (hence the term “hydrogenated”). The primary problem with the new labeling requirements for Trans-Fats is that a company can still claim “0g” if the content is less than .5g, even if the difference is literally negligible. If you are purchasing products in the supermarket, look for “hydrogenated” in the ingredients list.
Unfortunately, however, many fast food restaurants love to fry their products, and few are required to disclose the nutritional information. Most of the large-scale restaurant chains (McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King) have scaled down their use of hydrogenated oils, but most of the mid to small size chains continue to use them because they are cheap and simple.
Avoid fried and battered foods at these restaurants, as they can contain as much as 6-7g of Trans-Fats per serving. Fried food aren’t good for you either way, but if they’re loaded with Trans-Fats, it is effectively a one-two punch to your arteries.
2 Frozen Pies
Many frozen grocery-store pies contain loads of Trans-Fats in their pie crusts. You can solve this problem by purchasing a pre-made pie crust that does not contain Trans-Fats and load in your own fillings.
3 Margarine and Shortening
Margarine was initially hailed as a miracle replacement for butter until scientists discovered that replacing saturated-fats with Trans-Fats was like replacing lead with asbestos. There is plenty of margarine that is Trans-Fat free, but many (especially the stick variety) contain significant doses of it.
4 Pancake and Waffle Mix
Many pre-frozen pancakes and waffles contain Trans-Fats, as do many of the mixes. Luckily, most manufacturers have now put out “all-natural” or “complete” versions that may cost slightly more but are devoid of Trans-Fats entirely.
Cookies and snack-cakes (both the pre-packaged and ready-to-bake varieties) have long been notorious for their Trans-Fat content. Even worse, a single cookie can contain 2g of them per serving. This is an astronomical amount considering few people stop at one. Read the labels, as always, and understand what it is you’re consuming.