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What is trans fat?

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Trans fats are one type of fatty acid formed during the processing of partial hydrogenation. They are found naturally in some foods but mostly from foods that are partially hydrogenated. Trans fats act like saturated fat in the body and tend to raise blood cholesterol levels. A food label that indicates 0 trans fats means the product has less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving.

Trans fat is created when a liquid fat is infused with hydrogen and becomes solid at room temperature so it has a long shelf life. That's why you'll find it in processed food—everything from commercial baked goods, stick margarine, and shortening to fast food. These bad-guy fats increase triglycerides, total cholesterol, and harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and decrease healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Trans fats are made in a process that changes liquid vegetable oils into solid fats. Trans fats are found in shortening, margarine, many packaged processed foods such as cakes, candies, cookies, snack foods such as crackers, and fried foods such as French fries. Read the food labels and choose foods that have 0 grams of trans fat. In the ingredient list, look for partially hydrogenated oil. Food can have up to 0.49 grams of trans fat and still list 0 grams on the label.

Continue Learning about Trans Fats

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.