The Trans Fat Loophole

Trans Fat Loophole

Trans fat is supremely bad for you. It simultaneously lowers your HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and increases your LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) — all of which can increase your risk of heart disease.  Even very small amounts can have a huge effect.

There is no “safe” intake level for trans fat.

Most trans fat in the American diet is artificially created through hydrogenation.  However, some trans fats naturally occur in animal sources, particularly in dairy and beef fat.  (The jury is still out on whether or not there’s a difference between natural and artificial trans fats.  The dairy lobby seems to think there’s a big difference… no surprise there!)

Either way, here’s the thing:  The FDA allows any food with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving to be rounded down to zero.

Yup, it can say “0 g trans fat” and “trans fat free” on the label, and still have nearly half a gram of fat per serving.

Although that doesn’t seem like much, if you have four servings throughout the day with 0.49 grams of trans fat, you’ll be at your absolute daily max (according to the American Heart Association) without even knowing it!

So read the ingredients. If there is any “partially hydrogenated,” the food product contains trans fats and should be avoided.

FDA labeling policies for trans fats

Center for Science in the Public Interest on trans fats

Wikipedia page on trans fat

Photo by Terre’s Photos.

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3 Comments on "The Trans Fat Loophole"

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Sustainable Eats
November 1, 2011 9:48 am

You also need to watch out for the new “interesterfied” fat. It’s actually worse for you than trans fat!

September 7, 2012 3:02 am

Rule number one don’t eat anything which has a health claim one the front of the package. Zero fat is full of corn syrup. Zero sugar has aspartam and god only knows what else!

March 28, 2014 9:31 am

What about mono and diglycerides of fatty acids? Are these trans fats by another name?!