You Should Know

May 2009 Issue

Americans Only Vaguely Aware Where to Find Trans Fats; Do You Know?

A recent survey in the February Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that while most Americans have heard of trans fats and know they should avoid them, nearly 4 of 5 people canít name three sources of the artery-clogging fats and half of those surveyed couldnít name even one. How trans savvy are you? Trans Fats: Artificial vs Natural. Most trans fats you encounter are those created artificially when food manufacturers add hydrogen to polyunsaturated vegetable oils in a process called hydrogenation. Foods that contain these "partially hydrogenated fats" are, in essence, artificially saturated, which gives them a longer shelf life and greater flavor stability. Small amounts of trans fats actually occur naturally as well, in animal foods like beef and dairy products. Unlike artificial trans, some natural trans fats, which include conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), may actually provide health benefits. Health Consequences. Like saturated fats, artificial trans fats raise low-density lipoproteins (LDL, the "bad" cholesterol), increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Whatís worse is that these fats also lower high-density lipoproteins (HDL, the "good" cholesterol), further increasing risk.

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