Trans fats can be found in small amounts in some red meats and dairy, but they are usually the product of a process called “partial hydrogenation”. This process turns liquid fats into semi-solid, artificial fats that can clog arteries. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, naturally occurring trans fats aren’t believed to have the same damaging effects as artificial trans fats, but they should still be limited.Like saturated fats, trans fats can increase the bad cholesterol in your body (LDL cholesterol) but they can also decrease the amount of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol).
Trans fats are most commonly found in fried foods and commercial baked goods as they increase the shelf life and contribute to texture and flavor. Make sure to read food labels to help you make healthy choices. Along with the nutrition facts table where trans fats are listed, it is also a good idea to read the ingredients list. If the word hydrogenated appears in the list, there are traces of trans fats in the product.
- Read food labels and pay attention to the amount of trans fat or whether hydrogenated oils are in the ingredients list
- Limit the amount of fried and processed foods in your diet
- Choose soft margarines or spreads that are labeled “trans-fat free” or “non-hydrogenated
- If you are dining out, don’t be shy to ask about the trans fat content of menu items
If you’re interested in reading more about trans fats and what is being done to control these fats in our food supply, visit Health Canada’s website here.