How low should you go?
Trans fat, particularly the manufactured variety found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, appears to have no known health benefit. Experts recommend keeping your intake of trans fat as low as possible.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is no longer "generally recognized as safe" and should be phased out of the production of food over the next several years. However, naturally-occurring trans fats will still be found in some foods.
How trans fat harms you
Doctors worry about trans fat because it increases the risk for heart attacks, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Trans fat also has an unhealthy effect on your cholesterol levels — increasing your LDL and decreasing your HDL cholesterol. There are two main types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL, or "bad," cholesterol can build up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL, or "good," cholesterol picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.
If the fatty deposits within your arteries tear or rupture, a blood clot may form and block blood flow to a part of your heart, causing a heart attack, or to a part of your brain, causing a stroke.
What should you eat?
Foods free of trans fats aren't automatically good for you. Food manufacturers may have substituted other ingredients for trans fat that may not be healthy either. Some of these ingredients, such as tropical oils — coconut, palm kernel and palm oils — contain a lot of saturated fat.
Saturated fat raises your total cholesterol. In a healthy diet, 20 to 35 percent of your total daily calories can come from fat — but saturated fat should account for less than 10 percent of your total daily calories.
Monounsaturated fat — found in olive, peanut and canola oils — is a healthier option than is saturated fat. Nuts, fish and other foods containing unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids are other good choices of foods with healthy fats.
March 01, 2017
See more In-depth
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