What’s a Trans Fat?

Trans fats (often listed as “partially hydrogenated oil”) almost never occur in nature; rather, they are created in factories by adding an extra hydrogen atom to vegetable oils. This makes them ideal for food production. But trans fats are even worse than saturated fat for your heart and all-around health.

Trans fats have been linked to type 2 diabetes, but their biggest threat is to your heart: They also raise LDL cholesterol, and cause a drop in “good” HDL cholesterol, while boosting levels of other toxic stuff in the blood that cause cardiovascular disease.

Animal research suggests trans fats might spark weight gain. Studies show that lab monkeys fed diets high in trans fat gain three times more weight than other monkeys given equal amounts of other foods. Even worse, much of that extra weight took the form of belly flab, which raises the risk for heart disease.

There has been a major backlash against trans fats over the past decade, and many food manufacturers and restaurants have quit using them. But you still need to be vigilant. Avoid all foods that include any part of partially hydrogenated oil in their ingredient list. Most people should consume no more than 2 grams of trans fat per day — and less is better.

Top 10 Sources of Trans Fat

1. Fast-food French fries

2. Breaded fish sandwiches

3. Chicken nuggets

4. Pie

5. Danish

6. Frozen French fries

7. Doughnuts

8. Stick margarine

9. Enchiladas

10. Crackers

Plus: Eat Healthy Fats to Lose Weight

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