Five Most Common Sources of Trans Fats

You've heard the bad news: Trans fats are horrible for your body. They raise your LDL cholesterol levels in your bloodstream, clogging your arteries and increasing your susceptibility to heart disease. Medical experts recommend that you keep your trans fat intake as low as possible, eliminating it completely when possible. But what foods have trans fats in them? There are many foods vying for the worst offenders containing trans fats.  Striking these top five foods off your list will allow you to replace them with healthier options with no trans fat.

Fried Fast Food
One medium size serving of french fries contains eight grams of trans fat. That's 35% of the FDA's recommended daily value of saturated fats in one serving.  Plus, the french fries have eight grams of saturated fats, making this food even worse for you. Add a fried chicken sandwich and you're way over your limit for the day-or the week! It's recommended that you keep your saturated fat intake to below 20%, aiming for five percent if possible.

What can you do instead? If you have to go through the drive through, order a broiled or grilled chicken sandwich, skip the fries and have a side dish of fruit, apple dippers or side salad in place of the fries. At home, slice baking potatoes or sweet potatoes, spray them with Pam or nonstick spray (check the label for no trans fats) and sprinkle with salt. Broil them in the oven for a healthier alternative to french fries.

Baked Goods
Commercially baked goods are packed with trans fats. One slice of pound cake contains 4.5 grams of trans fat and 3.5 grams of saturated fat. One donut contains five grams of trans fat and four grams of saturated fat. Many of the baked goods you pick up at the store or local bakery are loaded with margarine and shortening, both of which are high in trans fats.

What can you do to satisfy your sweet tooth? Bake your goodies using fat substitutes and low fat recipes. Try angel food cake, which is naturally lower in fat, and other healthy baked goods.

Frozen Premade Foods
Check the labels on those pot pies, fish sticks and frozen desserts. Chances are you'll find high percentages of trans fats.

What can you do? Fry your own fish in olive oil, bake your own desserts and look for frozen items that are low in both trans fats and saturated fats.

Chips and the Like
You may think you're being pretty good because you bought low fat potato chips, but check the trans fats and think again. Always check the labels on potato chips, corn chips, snack crackers and other crunchy snacks. Most crunchy snacks have been fried or baked with trans fats or saturated fats, so look for healthier alternatives.

What can you buy instead? Try toasted pita bread with hummus or salsa or pretzels.

Margarine and Shortening
Butter is loaded with saturated fat and margarine and shortening are loaded with trans fat. It may seem like there's no way to win, but you can limit your usage of these items and replace some of them with healthier fats.

What can you do? Use olive oil or buy soft-tub margarine that has less trans fat. Check the labels and use as little fat and oil as possible.

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Limit your intake of trans fats by carefully reading labels and eliminating foods that have partially hydrogenated oils or don't specifically say oils are fully hydrogenated.

Knowing how to read food labels and understanding what those labels say helps you make better food choices that contribute to eating a healthy diet.

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