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Avoiding trans fats

A study has shown that most Americans know they should avoid trans fats in the diet, but few know what foods contain trans fats.

Trans fats, also known as trans fatty acids, are made through a chemical process called hydrogenation. Trans fats (or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils) are used to lengthen the shelf life of foods.

Video: Choosing foods without trans fats

This video offers helpful tips on how to read food labels in order to avoid trans fats.

About trans fats

Trans fats have been linked to health problems such as high cholesterol, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Trans fats are commonly found in the following foods: fries, dough nuts, pastries, hard margarine, vegetable shortening, cookies and crackers.

The trans fat study

Researchers from the University of Colorado surveyed 1000 American adults about fats. The results showed:

  • 92% had heard of trans fat.
  • 73% knew trans fats increased the risk of heart disease.
  • Only 21% could name 3 food sources of trans fat.
  • Nearly half could not name 1 trans fat food source.

Lead researcher, Robert Eckel said, “The trans fat message is pretty well out there, but we need to wake up to the fact that the trans fats intake pattern for America and the Western world is still too high. And we are still eating too many saturated fats, too.”

The research was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

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