By now you’ve heard that trans fatty acids are bad for you. But you may be wondering what they are and why manufacturers keep using them in foods.
Trans fats are made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil — a process called hydrogenation, or partial hydrogenation. The result is that the fat stays solid at high temperatures and thus lengthens the shelf life of foods. Unfortunately, it may also shorten the “shelf life” of those who eat them.
The only controversy is whether trans fatty acids are even worse than artery-clogging saturated fat, as some experts believe. According to other health authorities, they are as bad as saturated fat but no worse.
However, scientists at Wake Forest University recently reported that diets rich in trans fats may cause a redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen (the worst place to store fat for both health and appearance) and lead to a higher body weight, even when total calories are the same.