Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Trans Fat Trap or When Zero isn't really Zero!

Healthy Living with

This may seem a little boring but, this is an important post for those of us trying to live healthy, you may not even realize what you don't know! I sure didn't...

I haven't done an official Healthy Living post recently so I decided to do one this weekend. It's official... I passed my on-line certification and I am now an official "Nutrition Assistant" this will allow me to work as a consultant for weight loss groups such as the ones that my "weight loss lady" Ms. Phyllis runs. There is a new career in my future and I think I'm really going to like it... more details to come...

I lost another 2.5 pounds this week. I am SO close to 60 total, 59.8! I don't like to round up because I want it to be true weight loss that I'm discussing, so next week I'm hoping to join the 60 pound club... I should say "start" the 60 pound club because no one in my group has hit that number yet, a couple are right behind me and will be joining me soon! Yay us! I am also participating in Ang's summer weight loss challenge to lose 15 pounds and I am definitely going to go well beyond that challenge goal. I don't know if I'll actually win the challenge but I do feel proud about my accomplishment either way. My trainer worked up a new weight program for me. I did chest and biceps yesterday and my arms are killing me! In a good way of course. Today will be triceps and back... can't wait!

So this week, I'd like to discuss a topic that really concerns me. TRANS FAT! If you haven't heard about trans fat, it's pretty safe to say that you're living under the proverbial rock. That being said, hearing about it and understanding/knowing about it are two entirely different things. I've done a little bit of research on the web, you can check it out for yourself if you want to, most of the information I'm giving you is from the American Heart Association and the FDA.

Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Another name for trans fats is “partially hydrogenated oils." Look for them on the ingredient list on food packages. Companies like using trans fats in their foods because they’re easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time. Trans fats give foods a desirable taste and texture. Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers. Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Trans fats can be found in many foods – but especially in fried foods like French fries and doughnuts, and baked goods including pastries, pie crusts, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, and stick margarines and shortenings. We can find out if trans fats are in our foods by reading the ingredients label. Notice, I didn't say by looking at the nutrition facts label, that's the part that freaks me out! The Food and Drug Administration allows manufacturers of food to state that there are 0 grams of trans fat per serving as long as there is less than .49 grams. Many food manufacturers have made serving sizes smaller so the label can say 0 grams but they still contain trans fat.

The American Heart Association recommends 2 grams or less of trans fat per day. If you are eating foods that you think contain no trans fat but they actually contain .49 grams, you are reaching that 2 grams (and probably much more) very quickly. I have been duped for months now by General Mills' Raisin Nut Bran which I love but will no longer eat and by Edy's Slow Churned Frozen Yogurt that also has partially hydrodgenated soybean oil listed near the top of its ingredients list. It's upsetting, in fact, The Son's favorite Skippy peanut butter has partially hydrogenated fats listed as well. We've switched to the Skippy Natural which is a bit more expensive but all natural with no trans fat.

I'm telling you this because I was shocked when I learned it. We think that reading the nutrition label will give us accurate information and it does, per serving size, but I believe we need to know the real truth so that we can let manufacturers know that we will no longer consume products containing ANY trans fat. I wrote to General Mills last week about the Raisin Nut Bran and I'll share their reply with you tomorrow. Let's just say, I was unimpressed but not surprised with the answer they gave me. So, read the products' ingredients list and if they list any partially hydrogenated oils... and they will... put them back! I'm finding that by shopping in the store's organic/natural section, it's pretty easy to avoid the trans fats all together.

I hope I didn't bore you with my scientific post too much. Have a great weekend everyone! We're off to the gym and the pool.


skinnysweetpea said...

Great post! Congrats on 59.8!

Running Jen said...

Good post! And congrats, you are doing great, yeah you'll definitely be hitting that 60+ mark next week for sure!

I agree with you on the trans fats thing. That is why I won't buy any products that have partially hydrogenated oils in it, because you are still getting trans fats.

Be careful about the Skippy natural peanut butter. Obviously, it's way better than the regular one, but it has palm oil in it, and that's a saturated fat. Not saying that peanut butter is horrible, but if you want to go all natural, you're better off using one that has to be stirred, where the ingredients are pretty much just peanuts and salt. We use it, and really like it.

gnome517 said...

caren, does your supermarket have a bulk section? sometimes they also ahve a grinder and you can grind your own PB there. the trans fats stuff bugs me too. esp since companies have no guidelines on setting serving size and can manipulate it in any way they want to be able to print the numbers they want. check coke. they say 100 cals per serving. who the heck stops then when drinking one bottle of coke??? 100 cals seems to be new buzzword lately.
tfs !

Chrissy Cuz said...

Great post. Congratulations on getting your certification and the weight loss. You are doing awesome.

Samantha said...

Congrats on both the certification and the weight loss! That is amazing!!!

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