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Trans Fat

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  • Trans Fat

    Lately, I have become much more aware of trans fats and the fact that they are objectively bad for our health. I've read that artificially made trans fats are banned in the U.S., but somehow "Partially Hydrogenated Oils" and just "Hydrogenated Oils" are still in some of our foods (e.g. a jar of regular peanut butter and a packet of hot cocoa each had one of these as an ingredient) despite the label listing 0g trans fat (likely because it is under some threshold value).
    It seems that restaurants have a habit of putting trans fats in their foods as well since I've read the Nutrition Info for some popular chain restaurants (they have it available online so why not?) a couple times when ordering food. Additionally, it seems that there are some trans fats which are naturally occurring in some foods like ground beef.
    I asked my PCP about them and he said that they are bad for you and they basically just stay in your arteries / increase risk of bad stuff happening like heart attack or stroke (or something along those lines), so... I am doing my best to avoid them at all costs. My questions are:

    1.) Are the really bad trans fats actually banned in the U.S. since it seems that trans fats are a common part of many fast food / chain restaurants / local food joints' menu items?

    2.) Should I be concerned about foods that list 0g trans fat BUT contain partially hydrogenated oil(s) and is it a good idea to avoid them? Do they have a negative impact on health?

    3.) Should I be concerned about foods that seem to naturally have some trans fat in them (e.g. burgers, ground beef, perhaps steak and others)? Do they have a negative impact on health?

    4.) Do training and eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains "make up" for partaking in some foods containing trans fats like a couple donuts, a burger, or a steak on occasion?

    5.) Best practices / advice?

    All of this info has made going out to eat / ordering food a much more stressful endeavor since even seemingly "healthier" options will have trans fats added to them... so I wanted to make sure that I am not over-reacting to this information.

    tl;dr Trans fats scary: what do?

  • #2

    1) Yes. The FDA removed trans far from the generally recognized as safe list in June of 2018. They are not part of menu items in the US, though some oils/food products created before 2018 still have trans fat in them . Alternatively, trans fat content can increase in foods due to processing methods (high heat) or can be naturally occurring.

    2) Depends on what you're eating. Sounds pretty processed to me to be a regular part of a health-promoting dietary pattern.

    3) See above.

    4) I don't really think of it like that. You shouldn't be consuming lots of trans fats regardless of other behaviors, ideally.

    5) Eat a minimally processed dietary pattern rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean protein, and limited in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.

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