Monday, April 9, 2012

Week 7 of the 12 Week Challenge!

The word of the week is Trans Fats. I hear that word tossed around all the time. I see "0 Trans Fats" plastered on the tops of some bags. They must be bad right? Yep, but do you really know what they are and why they are bad for you?

Trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil to solidify it. You may have heard the term partially hydrogenated oil... fancy word for trans fat. Trans fats are popular because it gives food a longer shelf life and gives foods a less greasy feeling, according to the Mayo Clinic. Here is the bad news: Trans Fats raise your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and lower you HDL (good cholesterol) levels more than other fats. It clogs arteries and contributes to Type 2 diabetes.

Foods that contain Trans Fats include baked goods, crackers, donuts, etc. Shortening and margarine usually contains high amounts of Trans Fats. Read the labels. If it a label says 0 Trans Fats, check the back. Anything .5 or less can be labeled as zero Trans Fats. But think if you had multiple servings. Not so much like zero anymore.

Also check the labels for key ingredients like "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" or "hydrogenated vegetable oil" These mean Trans Fat. BUT if an ingredient states "fully hydrogenated vegetable oil" then there is no Trans Fats in the oil. Sounds counter intuitive doesn't it? The process that makes "completely" or "fully" hydrogenated oils do not produce the same fatty acids.

 Some people will tell you to choose regular butter over margarine because of the Trans Fat. However, butter is high in cholesterol raising saturated fats. Butter is super high in Sat Fats like 7.2 grams per TBSP, though it is low in trans fats (it has almost none). Stick Margarine has 2.8 grams of Trans Fats per TBSP (average) and 2.1 grams of Sat Fats.  So maybe reducing butter and margarine use is the best option. However, tub margarine is usually low in both Sat Fats and Trans Fats. That is a good swap. When cooking or baking however, you will just have to choose Sat Fats or Trans Fats. UGH!

Also keep an eye on packaged cake mixes, cookies mixes and things of that nature. They usually have some Trans Fats.

Fast food restaurants are a huge culprit, often pre-frying things in partially hydrogenated oils. Agh! An order of fries can have 14 grams!!!!!  These are hard to account for, as most of the time we don't check the nutritional information before eating out.

Challenge this week: Cut the Trans Fats. Cut them as completely as you can. Watch your use of stick margarine and shortening. Think about bakery items before you buy them. You can probably make a healthier version at home by swapping out some ingredients. And here is a big part... Cut out the fast food. I know that this may be inconvenient. If you MUST eat out at at FF joint, then look up their nutritional info online or ask for it when you get there. Make a healthy choice. And no going through the drive thru. Get out and walk in. Burn a few calories on the way in and out. :)

Cutting Trans Fats is such a healthy change. In fact cities like New York City is attempting banning Trans Fats and Philly is right behind them.

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