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Ask the Expert: Q&A with Director of Education, Bob Wright

Bob

 

Q:       I have heard a lot about trans fat lately.  What is it and why should I be concerned about it?

 

A:       Trans fats are found primarily in foods made with partially hydrogenated oils such as commercially prepared baked products, snack foods (cookies, crackers, donuts, chips), hard margarines, and shortenings.  Commercially prepared and restaurant fried foods have a significant amount as well.

You should be concerned about them because trans fats have been shown to raise bad cholesterol (LDL), lower good cholesterol (HDL), and increase chronic systemic inflammation, a condition that is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and Alzheimer’s.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, along with the FDA and the American Heart Association, recommends that you limit your consumption of trans fats to less than 1% of your total calories (1 gram per 1000 calories).  The Institute of Medicine suggests limiting them “as much as you can.”  The bottom line is that we should all try to eliminate them from our diet.

To meet these guidelines, avoid restaurant-fried foods and read food labels to identify and avoid foods with trans fats.  As consumers have become more concerned about trans fats, food companies have begun to reduce or eliminate them from their products.  That’s a step in the right direction, but keep in mind that taking the trans fat out of cookies, chips, and donuts does not make them health food.  They are still “junk food” and high in calories, refined carbohydrates, and sodium.

 

 

Struggling with a Nutritional Topic?  Let Bob help you out.  Leave your questions in the comments section and you have the chance to see your question answered in the next ‘Ask the Expert’ blog.

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