It’s easy to get fooled by nutrition labels. When I visited the set of KMAX’s Good Day Sacramento, I brought common grocery store products which claimed “zero grams trans fat”, yet really contained the unhealthy ingredient. To avoid trans fats, you need to read the ingredients list carefully. You can’t just rely on the Nutrition Facts chart. Search for products made with naturally trans fat-free Malaysian sustainable palm oil. This healthy fat is getting attention for its health benefits as well its sustainable production.
Consuming trans fat increases your heart disease risk. This unhealthy ingredient is the by-product of an industrial process called hydrogenation. This process makes a polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oil function more like a saturated fat. A government mandate requires all manufacturers to remove trans fats from our food supply, but they have until June 2018 to comply. In addition, a current labeling guideline allows companies to declare an item “trans fat-free” even if it contains up to half a gram of the unhealthy fat. Common everyday foods which take advantage of this loophole include some microwave popcorns, cereals, peanut butters and frozen potatoes.
Health-conscious shoppers need to read labels carefully to avoid hydrogenated oils. A healthier option is Malaysian sustainable palm oil. This naturally trans fat-free oil can be found in products such as Smart Balance spreads and peanut butters. Palm oil was recently profiled in the Wall Street Journal for its health benefits. Unrefined palm oil is extremely rich in vitamins A and E. While most of our cooking oils come from seeds, palm oil comes from a fruit. The oil palm tree’s fruit resembles an inside-out pomegranate. Simply squeezing the fruit’s red flesh releases the oil.
I came across this better-for-you oil when searching for environmentally friendly products. The Malaysian palm oil industry is an internationally recognized leader in sustainable agriculture. Food manufacturers replacing partially hydrogenated oils with Malaysian sustainable palm oil is a good move for our health, and the health of our planet.
Chef Gerard Viverito, is an culinary instructor as the Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, a NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas. He is also operator of Saveur Fine Catering.