Here are six rules to help you avoid consuming partially hydrogenated oils. Don't think for one minute that this is all you need to do for your heart and your health. Eliminating partially hydrogenated oils from your diet is just one piece of the puzzle. This is not the place to educate you about heart health and other medical issues. But if you don't understand heart health, then learn about it - please - for your own and your family's well-being. And if you are avoiding squarely facing up to the issue, and possibly kidding yourself, then go to a cardiologist for a checkup if you haven't already done so. That applies to women too. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States.
Six rules to avoid eating bad fats
1. Don't eat any product which has the words "partially hydrogenated" or "shortening" in the ingredients list.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises:
Note: Fully hydrogenated oils do not contain trans fat. However, if the word "hydrogenated" is used without the word "partially," that product may contain partially hydrogenated oil. Not all labeling is accurate and the word "partially" may have been wrongfully omitted on some products.
2. If the label says zero trans fats, don't believe it. If the words "partially hydrogenated" or "shortening" are in the ingredients list, it DOES contain trans fat.
Under FDA regulations in effect in the United States, "if the serving contains less than 0.5 gram [of trans fat], the content, when declared, shall be expressed as zero." Suppose a product contains 0.4 grams per serving and you eat four servings (which is not uncommon). You have just consumed 1.6 grams of trans fat, despite the fact that the package claims that the product contains zero grams of trans fat per serving. Changing this rule is a high priority for BanTransFats.com. We are working on it.
(In Canada, the situation is not as bad. If the serving contains less than 0.2 grams of trans fat, the content may expressed as zero. Click here for the Canadian rules.)
3. Be careful when consuming products with labels from outside the United States. Sometimes they contain partially hydrogenated oil but it's not on the label.
4. In restaurants, bakeries, and other eateries, ask whether they use partially hydrogenated oil for frying or baking or in salad dressings. If they say they use vegetable oil, ask whether it is partially hydrogenated. Don't be shy about asking. Assume that all unlabeled baked and fried goods contain partially hydrogenated oil, unless you know otherwise.
Ask about that fried food. Ask about the oil in the salad dressing. Ask about that donut. Ask about that pie crust. Ask about that bread. When you ask, you are sending a message to the seller of the food that you don't want trans fats.
5. Keep saturated fat intake low too. This is very important.
6. Remember that polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fats are good fats.
To learn more about good and bad fats, click here.
One more thing. Cholesterol that affects our arteries comes from two sources: (i) animal products and (ii) bad fats. If a product is "cholesterol fee," that doesn't mean that it won't raise your bad cholesterol. If the product itself contains no cholesterol but it does contain trans fat or saturated fat, it will raise your bad cholesterol.
Click here to see a TV video clip about trans fats, which includes an interview with Dr. Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health.
* This is not medical advice. If you have a medical condition that requires you to eat a particular product, you should consult your doctor before making any changes.
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