Why and How to Avoid Trans Fat

Tans fat

You’ve probably heard that trans fat is bad for you, but just how bad is it? Trans fat occurs naturally in small amounts in some red meat and dairy products. Most often, however, it is artificially created by partially hydrogenizing vegetable oil. These artificially created trans fats are easier to ship (because they are solid) and have a longer shelf life, so it is often used in processed foods like doughnuts and cookies. Fast food restaurants often use trans fat to deep fry foods as well because it allows the restaurant to replace the oil less often.


The Studies

A Harvard study found that women who ate the most trans fat (an average of 7 grams a day) had a 50% increased risk of heart disease over a 14 year period. Trans fat has been found to raise LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) lower HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), raise triglycerides, increase blood clotting, and spike inflammation. It has also been implicated in other health problems like obesity, Type II Diabetes, and cancer.


Where It’s Found:

Fortunately, as of 2006 trans fats are required to be listed on food labels in the US. Unfortunately though, food companies are allowed to list trans fat as “0 grams” if the product has less than 0.5 grams. Because of this, you have to check the ingredients list to be sure it doesn’t contain any trans fat. If you see “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “vegetable shortening” you can bet there is trans fat in the product. At restaurants you’ll just have to ask your server or chef. But you’re probably safe if you avoid fried food and deserts. Here’s a list of foods where you’re most likely to find trans fat:

  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pie crust
  • French fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Fried chicken
  • Other fried foods
  • Potato chips
  • Corn chips
  • Microwavable popcorn
  • Non-dairy creamer
  • Margarine
  • Frosting



None of these foods are good for you anyway, so you might be best off just avoiding them altogether. Whether or not you do, trans fat is one of the worse things you can eat. Try and limit it as much as you can.