How Bad is Trans Fat?
research shows that consumption of saturated fat,
trans fat, and dietary cholesterol raises
low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad cholesterol,"
levels. This increases the risk of coronary
heart disease (CHD). According to the National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, more than 12.5
million Americans have CHD, and more than 500,000
die each year. That makes CHD one of the leading
causes of death in the United States.
Food and Drug Administration has required that
saturated fat and dietary cholesterol be listed on
food labels since 1993. Beginning in 2006, the
listing of trans fat is also required. With trans
fat added to the Nutrition Facts panel, you can find
out how much of all three--saturated fat,
trans fat, and cholesterol--are in the foods you
choose. Identifying saturated fat, trans fat, and
cholesterol on the food label gives you information
you need to make food choices that help reduce the
risk of CHD.
Most trans fats are made when
manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil--a
process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation
increases the shelf life and flavor stability of
foods containing these fats. Saturated fat
occurs naturally in nearly all fatty foods, but
mostly in meats, dairy products, and tropical oils
like palm kernel and coconut.
against both fats, saturated and trans, is so strong
that we should not play one against another.
We should cut down on both saturated and trans fats.
Actually, trans fat is probably worse than saturated
fat. Saturated fat raises both LDL or bad
cholesterol and HDL, good cholesterol, while
trans fat only raises LDL. If you have to
target one fat for modification, there's a greater
potential for change by cutting saturated fat.
That's because only two percent of our calories come
from trans fat, while saturated fat contributes 13
percent. Avoiding saturated fat is difficult
because it's in so many popular foods, from pizza
and hamburgers to steak, tacos, ice cream, lasagna,
and cheese. Conclusion: we need to limit our
intake of both saturated and trans fats.
cut down on trans fats, we need to limit our
consumption of french fries, cakes, pies, and other
foods made with hydrogenated oil, shortening, or
stick margarine. Remember: trans fat
raises LDL. Trans fats occur naturally in
beef, butter, milk and lamb fats and in commercially
prepared, partially hydrogenated margarines and
solid cooking fats. Partially hydrogenated
vegetable oils were developed in part to help
displace highly saturated animal and vegetable fats
used in frying, baking and spreads. Their use
in margarines probably provides a more healthful
alternative to butter, beef tallow and lard, because
they have less saturates.
Most of us, when
told to cut down on fats in our diets, will
naturally cut down on the amount of trans fats as
well as saturated fats. Substituting solid tub
margarine for stick margarine will decrease dietary
trans fat in our diets. If one of your goals in
cutting down on the fat in your diet is to lower
total cholesterol, you might go even further and use
one of the new spreads that are made from plant
sterols. Just remember that making even small
changes to improve your diet can reap big rewards in
your overall health.
Food and Drug Administration
Colorado Cooperative Extension
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons cold reduced-fat stick margarine
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 cup pineapple preserves
In a food
processor, combine the flour, oats and brown sugar.
Cover and process until blended. Add margarine
and extract. Cover and pulse until crumbly.
Remove ½ cup crumb mixture to a bowl; stir in
sliced almonds. Press remaining crumb mixture
in a 9 inch square baking pan coated with nonstick
cooking spray. Spread preserves over crust.
Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at
350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden.
Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 1 dozen