Trans fat is a type of fat that is found in many foods, especially those foods that come from an animal source. It is possible for trans fat to be present in unprocessed foods that are already coming directly from their natural source. However, many manufacturers add trans fat to processed foods. The trans fats in processed foods are derived from partially hydrogenated oils, which are added to the product to promote an ease of cooking and a longer shelf life.
The majority of trans fats in processed foods are artificial or synthetic. Recent research suggests that artificial or synthetic trans fats are more likely to increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL), thus putting the individual who consumes those fats at a greater risk for the development of heart disease and cardiovascular problems. The following is a list of 10 popular foods that contain dangerous levels of trans fats:
1. Margarine And Shortening
Margarine and shortening are typical food products in which you might find a high level of trans fat. In order to manufacture these products, oils must be hydrogenated to create a firm stick. Hydrogenated oils are the basis for trans fats. Years ago, consumers did not have much of a choice; if they used margarine or shortening, they would undeniably be consuming high levels of trans fats. In the current marketplace there are other options. Several manufacturers produce margarine that is made from non-hydrogenated oils that do not contain trans fats.
2. Boxed Cake Mix
While it is convenient to be able to quickly and easily whip up a cake prepared from a packaged box of cake mix, there is one major drawback. Boxed cake mixes contain a high level of trans fats, as do boxed pancake and waffle mixes, and other boxed baking mixes. Next time you are at the grocery store, pick up some flour, baking powder and the other basic baking ingredients needed to make a delicious and healthier homemade cake. If you can’t fathom the idea of making your own cake from scratch, you can significantly decrease the amount of trans fat by selecting reduced fat mixes. While reduced fat mixes still contain some trans fats, the amount per serving is greatly reduced.
3. Canned Soup
Many canned soups and even dried noodle soups contain elevated levels of trans fats. Although popping open a can of soup may be a quick fix when you’re hungry, you are sacrificing health for convenience by exposing yourself to dangerous trans fats. Your best bet is to make and freeze your own soups. Cook soup ahead of time and freeze it in small portions so that it can be defrosted and eaten as a quick lunch. Break out the crock pot and simmer a healthy pot of soup made from fresh vegetables and natural ingredients. Conveniently, the soup will slowly cook while you are out of the house all day. If you absolutely can’t find the time to make your own soup, choose reduced fat or fat free soup varieties.
4. Frozen Foods
Frozen foods may sound appealing when you’re looking for a quick and easy meal, but most of them are loaded with trans fats. Be smart and always read the nutrition labels. Just because the box says the ingredients are low in fat does not mean that they do not contain trans fats. Some frozen food varieties can contain up to 15 grams of fat per serving. The biggest offenders are waffles, pizza, fish sticks and pies.
5. Supermarket Bakery Items
There’s no denying that those nicely decorated baked cakes that line your supermarket’s bakery shelf are tempting. But before you purchase them, keep in mind that commercially baked products contain some of the highest levels of trans fats in foods. Unfortunately, doughnuts are not only made with shortening, but are also fried in trans fat oils. While higher quality bakery items are better for you and contain less trans fats, they still are high in saturated fat. Your best bet is to bake your own goodies and tweak your recipes to include some reduced fat ingredients.
6. Crackers And Snack Foods
Anything buttery or fried is laden with trans fat. Chips and crackers may taste good, but the amount of trans fat they contain per serving is staggering. In addition, chocolate sandwich cookies are among the foods with the highest amounts of trans fat per serving. One single cookie can contain nearly 2 grams of trans fat. If you enjoy snacking, look towards fresh fruits or vegetables, which are healthy and convenient. Need that crunch in your life? Grab some air popped popcorn or try toasting your own pita bread to create a delicious, trans fat-free chip.
7. Salad Dressing
Walk down the salad dressing aisle in the grocery store and you’ll see hundreds of brands and varieties of dressings, complete with an astonishing amount of trans fats. Most commercially produced salad dressings contain trans fats, particularly the creamy varieties such as ranch or Caesar. Your best bet is to make your own salad dressing prepared from olive or canola oil and vinegar, some spices and a pinch of fresh garlic. If you prefer a bottled dressing, stick with light or fat free types and choose vinaigrettes and oil based dressings over the creamy ones.
(For more information on making your own salad dressing, read Easy Recipes For Healthy Salad Dressings.)
8. Non-Dairy Creamers
Always use caution when using non-dairy creamers in your coffee. Although the product sometimes reads low fat or fat free, this may not be the case. Unfortunately, it is legal for the companies to label the product as low fat or fat free even if it contains small amounts of trans fats. Additionally, the manufacturers list the serving size as being one teaspoon, although most individuals use well over that amount. Consuming more than one teaspoon means they are ingesting much more saturated fat then they are led to believe. Consider using skim milk instead or truly fat free varieties of creamer.
Most people love condiments like dip, especially when they are thick and creamy. Most dips contain a lot of fat and have high levels of trans fats. When purchasing dip for your next party or get together, opt for fat-free or trans fat-free varieties. Consider skipping the creamy dips altogether and switch to hummus or salsa, both of which are healthy and delicious.
Popcorn is thought of as a healthy alternative to potato chips, but this is not necessarily the case. Most people opt for microwave popcorn because it is convenient and quick. Although microwave popcorn is easy to make, it is loaded with trans fat. For a healthier version, skip the microwave and make your popcorn the old fashioned way, with an air popper.