Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Trans-Fat TRAP!

Ding, ding, ding, ding! Winner, winner, (healthy)chicken dinner! Two of my very smart friends who also happen to be two of my living healthiest friends realized that I was talking about trans fat in my last post. Trans fat SUCKS and I want to tell you why. Good work Nom and Jen! You girls are nutrition geniuses!

What exactly is trans fat? Trans fat is the fat that increases our LDL cholesterol which is the "lousy" cholesterol and it decreases our HDL which is the healthy cholesterol. It's created when hydrogens are added to liquid vegetable oils.
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. The way my boss put it to me is that trans fat is the fat that your body cannot eliminate or digest. Trans fat that you eat today will stay in your body forever and is the fat that clogs your arteries. Companies use trans fat because it's cheap and it lasts a long time so if you buy foods and notice that the expiration date is a long, long way away, (think oblong little sponge cakes with white cream inside of them) chances are it contains trans fat. If the words "partially hydrogenated oil" of any kind are on the label well, then it's got trans fat in it.

Why do I get peeved about labels? Because companies are allowed to say that a product contains 0 grams of trans fat as long as it contains less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving. The reason this is dangerous is because we should not have more than 1.5 grams of trans fat per day and serving sizes are small... SMALL! Companies have adjusted their serving sizes to be able to say 0 grams of trans fat but if you have more than the serving size, chances are you're having very close to, or above the amount you should be having and if you're doing this every day well, you're clogging your arteries even when you don't realize it. It's a trap! A trans fat TRAP and I think it's basically a legal way to lie to the American people.

Let's take what I consider to be one of the biggest culprits of this... coffee creamer liquids! I have lots of members in my groups who choose coffee creamers in their coffee because they think it's a good way to add creaminess and flavor to their coffee for a low amount of calories yet the third ingredient listed is "partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil." You probably realize that on labels, ingredients are listed in order of proportional quantity, meaning the biggest amounts are first and the smaller amounts are at the end. The "serving size" of coffee creamer is 1 Tablespoon which seems rather small to me, but even if you're having that amount, if you're having coffee creamer every day, chances are you're consuming quite a bit of trans fat.

On the coffee creamer website, one of the FAQs is regarding trans fat and the company's answer is so irritating to me, in a nutshell, they say,
that their liquid flavors contain less than .5 g of trans fat per serving although the ingredient statement lists partially hydrogenated oil, the amount is trivial. Therefore it can be listed as 0 (per FDA guidelines) on the nutritional statement. Frankly, I think they're just hiding behind the stupid FDA guidelines just like every other company that uses partially hydrogenated oils in their products.

I was going to go on and list the foods that contain the most hidden trans fats but as I was doing my research, I found this article which I think sums it up better than I can. I encourage you to do your own research on trans fats and read labels in the store (and in your pantry.) If you weren't already aware of this trap, you might be very surprised about what you're consuming and/or feeding to your family.

In my opinion, it's all about being educated and not liking it that the government is legally allowed to hide the truth because big companies claim they cannot survive without using trans fats in their products because remember trans fat is cheap and keeps the products on the shelf longer. A really easy way to avoid trans fats is to eat real, whole foods and to stay away from things that are processed. I know it's not possible to stay away from all processed foods so when you do eat processed foods, just read, read, read those labels and don't buy things that contain "partially hydrogenated oils" if enough people did this and knew about the dangers of trans fat, then perhaps the companies that manufacturer our foods would stop using them.

Thanks for reading, I hope I helped educate you or at least helped to reinforce information you already knew about being healthy.

One last pet peeve of mine that has absolutely NOTHING to do with nutrition is spelling errors and grammar errors on blogs. I know I've probably complained about it before but I sometimes hope that the people who blog with these errors frequently will read my blog and learn proper grammar from it. (I recently even saw one use the word "grammer" to refer to proper grammar... Oh! the irony) I do not claim to be perfect but I will say that I proofread and try my hardest to make sure that I am usually correct in my grammar and spelling. I even have my own personal proofreader who sends me e-mails when I have errors (Hi Daddy!) and I correct them ASAP, feel free to also act as a proofreader if you see any errors on my blog, I appreciate the feedback. Anyway, A brief, very brief reminder...

Your = the possessive form of you. Example: "You need to use proper grammar on your blog."
You're = You are. Example: " You're consuming trans fat and don't even realize it."

Enjoy the rest of your weekend Friends, Happy Sunday!


Betty Jo said...

Great and informative post, as always Caren. Just one question. Did you mean "form" or "from" in this sentence: [Your = the possessive from of you] hehe talk about irony! I'm glad I don't blog, because I'm constantly second guessing my own grammar!

Caren said...

LMAO! Oh my goodness! Leave it to me to make a mistake in my grammar when commenting that I'm irritated over other people's grammar! Thanks Betty Jo, I fixed it. What a doofus I am!

Running Jen said...

I hear ya! Good post, by the way. I cannot stand the way food companies can get around the trans fat thing, that's why what you said is the best way to go: if the food has partially hydrogenated oil, just stay away. I had to laugh at your comment about the little oblong sponge cakes with white cream - I heard someone say once that you can take one of things out and leave it on a table, come back a year later, and it's still fine! LOL.

The coffee creamers! Yes, such a big culprit. I don't use them, I actually use whole milk for my coffee, and I've gotten comments from a certain family member who thought I was being "unhealthy". For me though, I use such a tiny amount, and I can't put skim in coffee, so that's that.

I have to say though, I've had a friend or family member act surprised when I say that I read food labels. I never buy anything without knowing what's in it. But, to me it's so important, and I think it's great that it obviously is to you too!

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