Many of us instinctively grab the box of crackers or frozen pizza with the “zero trans fat” label on the front. We feel good because we’re avoiding foods with trans fat, the unhealthy ingredient which the FDA is phasing out of our food supply. The problem is, many of our favorite products still contain this artery-clogging ingredient. And they can continue to be sold until the FDA’s ban takes effect in 2018. Check out our list of the worst trans-fat tainted foods. Then learn how to swap them for healthier versions and discover what misleading labeling loophole may be the source of your trans fat consumption.
The worst trans fat offenders
- Canned frosting. Just say no this unhealthy fat. Instead of buying pre-made frosting, whip up a batch made with real butter. This was once the gold-standard of frosting until we were mistakenly led away from butter and other saturated fats.
- Margarine and most other spreads. Be careful when choosing buttery spreads. To achieve a creamy texture, some manufacturers use partially hydrogenated oils, a common trans fat source. Look for spreads made with Malaysian sustainable palm oil. This better-for-you oil is naturally trans fat free and also a rich source of vitamin E.
- Packaged cakes, cookies and brownies. Those inexpensive boxed treats may be an easy add to your kids’ lunch box, but avoid the temptation. Many contain hydrogenated oils and other hard-to-pronounce ingredients. If you don’t have time to make your own snacks from scratch, look for convenience products made with natural ingredients. Many contain Malaysian sustainable palm oil because it’s non-GMO, unlike most canola and soy oils.
- Frozen pizza. Your favorite go-to dinner may also contain trans fat. To find out, read the ingredient list, which is often in teeny-tiny type. In 2006, the FDA required companies to include the amount of trans fat on nutrition labels. It also allowed companies to round down a product’s trans fat content to zero if the product contained less than 0.5 grams of the unhealthy fat per serving. If the ingredient list contains the words ‘partially hydrogenated’, the pizza contains trans fats. If it lists ‘palm oil’, chances are the product is trans fat free.
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.