You thought were you were avoiding trans fats until you heard about the “trans fat loophole” – the FDA rule allowing food manufacturers to claim a product is trans fat-free even if it contains up to a half a gram of the unhealthy ingredient. Now, you’re not so sure. Chances are, you have been eating trans fat-containing foods, but it’s easy to reverse that trend. Follow our three simple rules to avoiding hidden trans fats.
- Read labels carefully: There’s more to avoid than just partially hydrogenated oils.
While the FDA’ s ban will prevent food producers from using partially hydrogenated oils, the most common source of trans fats, it doesn’t restrict other trans fats sources. Avoid any product that includes the word ‘hydrogenated’ in its ingredient list. A better-for-you alternative is Malaysian sustainable palm oil. This premium ingredient has the same desirable qualities as partially hydrogenated oils, but it is naturally trans fat free. Avoid diglycerides and monoglycerides. These commonly used emulsifiers may also contain small amounts of trans fats.
- Eat as close to nature as possible.
The farther away a food is from its natural state, the greater the chance it may contain ingredients you hope to avoid. “Even some food flavorings and colorants sometimes contain partially hydrogenated oils,” says Chef Gerard Viverito, who is known for sourcing healthy, sustainable ingredients. Shop the periphery of the grocery store, which generally contains closer-to-nature products. Choose oils that are not highly refined, such as Carotino red palm oil. You can tell by its orange color that it is rich in beta carotene, as well as other essential nutrients. This nutritious palm oil is responsibly sourced from Malaysia.
- Cook from scratch.
Stay away from premade frozen snacks and meals, instead opting to make your own and freeze the leftovers for another day. To avoid common trans fats sources, always prepare waffles and cakes from scratch, whip up your own frosting and pop your corn the old-fashioned stovetop way instead of using microwave varieties.
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.