You may have heard that the Food and Drug Administration is expected to ban trans fats in foods. You may have also heard that your favorite doughnuts, frozen pizzas and cookies may be on the chopping block. Before you run off to stock your freezer with pepperoni pies and jelly-filled delights, take a minute to learn more about trans fat, hydrogenation and manufacturers’ alternatives that will ensure your favorite foods don’t go the way of the dinosaurs.

What are trans fats and why are they unloved?

Trans fats are formed during the hydrogenation process, a chemical procedure many food manufacturers use. Many health experts consider trans fats the worst fats you can eat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says consuming trans fats puts you at risk of heart disease. It states that reducing their consumption could prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks each year.

How do you hydrogenate an oil?

Hydrogenation is when hydrogen atoms are added to formerly healthy oils which are liquid at room temperature. Hydrogenation makes these fats more solid and increases their shelf life. This process requires special equipment and chemical solvents. Unfortunately, when we cheat nature by using this hydrogenation process, a by-product can be the dreaded trans fats. While this still makes a tasty doughnut, we now know there are health implications.

What are the better-for-you alternatives?

Instead of using chemically altered oils, food manufacturers can use fats that naturally deliver a smooth texture and longer shelf life. Naturally trans fat-free Malaysian sustainable palm oil delivers that rich, creamy taste and texture. Palm oil is also non-GMO and nature’s richest source of vitamin E. This healthy fat can already be found in a many products on your grocer’s shelves such as Smart Balance spreads and Luna Bars. So when you see palm oil on the label, rest assured knowing you are getting a natural and healthy fat which is free of artificial hydrogenation.

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