What are trans fats,
and why are they the new bad boys on the food pyramid? “Trans fat
is formed when liquid oils are made into solid fats through a
process called hydrogenation, which increases a food’s shelf life,”
according to Marisa Moore, RD, American Dietetic Association
spokesperson. This process creates fats that raise levels of LDL
cholesterol (sometimes known as “bad” cholesterol), which in turn
increases the risk of heart disease.
Products with fats that are made
through a chemical process, like shortening and stick margarine,
are common offenders. Doughnuts, baked goods and other snack foods
often have trans fats, as well. As a rule, avoid anything with
“hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list.
And read nutrition information labels: The percentage of trans fats
must be listed.
For more healthful options, buy soft
margarines that are trans-fat free, and chose natural,
heart-healthy oils like olive or canola oil. And when coating a pan
for cooking or baking, it’s best to use a nonstick spray.