What’s In A Name?

We all know trans fat is very bad to eat.  It raises the bad cholesterol (LDL), lowering the good cholesterol (HDL) in your blood.  The end result is a higher risk of heart disease than if you ate no trans fat. So, why does the food industry get away with putting it in our food, while still being able to claim “0 grams” of trans fat on the label?

That’s because if a food contains less than .5 g of trans fat, they can write  “ trans fat – 0 g “ on the label!  This law came to be because the food industry has a very powerful lobby in Washington.  Their job is to convince our lawmakers to pass laws that benefit the food industry … not necessarily you.

So, how can you be a food detective in the grocery store, and keep trans fat out of YOUR house?  Well, trans fat is formed when oil is “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.”  The food industry relies on the fact that you wouldn’t know this, because those terms are right there in the ingredient list!  So, look for those terms.  If it’s there, leave that food in the store; don’t bring it to your house!

Anyway, it’s just a little bit, right?  WRONG!  You could be eating multiple servings of one food, or more than one food that has less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving.  It adds up, and any of this harmful fat is too much.  One can be routinely eating this fat by eating foods whose labels all claimed, “0 grams trans fat.”

Be aware that trans fat is in some foods naturally, such as some meats and dairy, but it’s the trans fat in processed foods (foods in a box or bag, manufactured) that are more harmful.  Still, the naturally occurring trans fat should also be avoided

FOOD SMART article series for MDCPS

by: Eileen Higgins Faradji, MD, FACS