As you know from one of our previous articles, your body needs fat as building blocks for their cell walls, energy source, energy storage, to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and for proper functions of our nervous and hormone systems. But not all fats are good — trans fats should be avoided.
Trans fats that are naturally liquid but are forced to become solid for more stability and increased shelf life through a process called hydrogenation. The body can’t deal with these kinds of fats and therefore consuming them causes various health risks from inflammation to serious diseases.
The food industry hides them. So how can you spot them?
1. Turn the food item around and read the label
If you see “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” you can be sure it contains trans fats.
2. Avoid foods that potentially contain lots of trans fats
As some countries don’t force food manufacturers to list trans fats. An example are cream crackers that often only lists “vegetable oil” which is most likely to be a trans fat, considering its long shelf life.
3. Margarine itself is a hydrogenated oil
So whenever you see margarine listed as an ingredient, its definitely high in trans fats.
4. As a rule of thumb limit highly processed foods
These include baked goods such as pizza, croissants, pastries and puffs, snacks like chips and crackers, fried foods and creamer.
5. If the label says 0% trans fat, it doesn’t mean it is free of trans fats
Fact is in many countries 0.5 grams of trans fat in a serving can be labeled as 0% trans fats — so make sure you have a closer look at all the ingredients.
The fact is: trans fats are everywhere.
Here’s how I reduce my trans fat intake if I get cravings:
1. Add healthier ingredients where possible
If I eat baked goods like cakes or croissants, I make sure they are made with butter and not margarine. Pizza I make my own and add lots of vegetables. These aren’t always the healthiest, but definitely a better option.
2. The organic section is your best friend
When eating chips, I go for the baked option and choose the crackers that don’t contain hydrogenated vegetable oils. The organic section in supermarkets is often a good place to find these.
3. Anything but fried
When choosing dishes, go for baked, grilled or steamed over the fried option.
4. Avoid creamer and margarine at all costs
Creamer and margarine are a no go in my kitchen — and it’s pretty easy to avoid.
5. Enjoy natural trans fats in moderation
Butter, milk, cheese and red meat also contains natural trans fats, but it comes from natural sources and is not synthetic. Yes — it should be limited but not excluded from your diet.