In 2015, the FDA officially said that trans fats will no longer be Recognized as Safe (GRAS). In 2018, they were banned from being used in food.
Despite this, some of the food that is on shelves and in restaurants still contain trans fats.
The following popular foods are often found to contain hidden trans fats. If you are looking to avoid trans fats, you should pay close attention to these types of foods.
1. Fast Food
Fast-food restaurants depend on oil to produce crispy textures. This is what gives fast food french fries and fried chicken that extra crunch and also makes it extra greasy.
Trans fats are commonly found in fast foods that are battered and fried. The solid oils that are used in many fast-food restaurants have trans fats in them.
Some restaurants might even reuse these oils in their deep fryer during the day. Thermally abused frying oils are connected with health risks like breast cancer.
2. Microwavable Popcorn
Your favorite movie snack might be a culprit of hidden trans fats.
Another term used for trans fat is “Partially hydrogenated oil”. Some trans fats can be found naturally in animal products, but they could also be made artificially during an industrial process known as hydrogenation. This process is when hydrogen is added to liquid veggies to make them more solid. Some businesses use trans fats because they are cheap, easy to make and long-lasting.
Trans fats are often added to boxed foods like microwavable popcorn as they boost shelf life. Because partially hydrogenated oil has a higher melting point, it is able to remain solid and intact until it’s microwaved, deeming it a great preservative for the brand but not so much for your health.
3. Baked Goods
When looking at lists of foods that have trans fats in them, baked goods are at the top of that list. These foods include cookies, cakes, doughnuts, muffins, pies, croissants, pastries and cinnamon rolls.
Baked goods are usually made with shortening, an ingredient consisting of solid fat. This gives baked goods its crumbly, flakey texture. Shortening is basically a source of pure trans fats as it consists entirely of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Why Are Trans Fats So Unhealthy?
Trans fats are among the unhealthiest type of fat you can consume. They increase your “bad” cholesterol and reduce your “good” cholesterol, making them the complete opposite of a heart-healthy food choice.
In fact, trans fats are linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the top cause of death in the United States. Diets that are high in trans fats could also increase your chances of stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Dietary fat is an important part of your nutrition — just be certain to choose your sources of fat wisely and put a limit on foods that have trans fats in them.