If you thought trans fats were out of the food supply, guess again. This factory-produced artificial fat is still in some grocery store products. When I was on Lexington, Kentucky’s CBS News, I explained why trans fats are harmful, and what steps you can take to avoid them. Thankfully, many food manufacturers are replacing this unhealthy ingredient with natural Malaysian sustainable palm oil. This better-for-you oil is trans fat-free, non-GMO and rich with nutrients. When you’re armed with up-to-date trans fat information, you can make healthier choices at the grocery store.
Why trans fats are unhealthy
Trans fats raise our body’s bad LDL cholesterol and decrease our good HDL cholesterol. This increases our cardiovascular disease risk. This is a significant concern, as heart disease is the number one killer in the United States.
How to avoid trans fats
You need to read labels carefully to evade this harmful ingredient. Because of a FDA labeling loophole, companies can include a zero-trans-fats claim on food packages even if the item contains up to 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving. Read ingredient lists, and avoid products made with hydrogenated oils. Trans fats are the byproduct of this industrial process. Soybean and canola are commonly hydrogenated oils.
A healthier alternative
Some food manufacturers have been using Malaysian sustainable palm oil instead of hydrogenated oils. Palm oil is naturally trans fat free. Unlike other oils, in most cases palm oil doesn’t need to be hydrogenated to achieve the desired consistency.This wholesome oil is also the world’s richest source of vitamin E tocotrienols which support skin, brain and heart health. Malaysian sustainable palm oil can be found in many grocery store products such as Smart Balance spreads and peanut butters, Luna Bars and Nutella. Malaysian palm oil is also great for high-temperature cooking due to its high smoke point. I use it when popping corn at home. It’s a healthier alternative to microwave popcorn which is often loaded with bad fats and artificial ingredients.
Dr. Felicia D. Stoler is a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and expert consultant in nutrition and healthful living. She was the host for the reality show, Honey We’re Killing the Kids on TLC. She is the author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes™: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great (Pegasus 2011). She specializes in integrating behavior modification to influence positive health outcomes. Stoler is the published author of numerous articles on nutrition, exercise, health and wellness.