On an average day, I start out with a cup of coffee with just a little splash of half and half. Last week, when I was traveling, my routine was bucked and let’s just say I was less than pleased with my options. I was stuck with the hotel coffee and the powdered packet of creamer in my room. Since I was desperate for my morning java, I almost used the powdered stuff. But just as I suspected, I read the label and learned it was chock-full of trans fatty acids – ugh!
Why avoid trans fats?
- They raise your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
- They lower HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
- They increase triglyceride levels.
- They can cause inflammation in the body.
- They can greatly increase your risk for heart disease (Harvard School of Public Health believes trans fats are responsible for 1 in 5 heart attacks).
Food manufacturers use trans fats because they increase shelf life, keep flavors stable and are very inexpensive. For many years, most of the “junk” foods—cookies, cakes, candies, chips, crackers, and some margarines—were made with hydrogenated (another name for trans fats) oils. But with the negative attention given to trans fats, many manufacturers are cutting back or eliminating their use. Still, you should always read your food labels.
Most foods aren’t labeled as having “trans fats” but there are a few buzz-words that will indicate whether a food product contains this harmful ingredient.
Here is what you don’t want to see on your food label:
- Partially hydrogenated
- Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
- Vegetable shortening