Stealth Fat Lurks in Favorite Foods
Many 'Healthy Foods' Full of Unlabeled Trans Fats
But not all healthy baked foods have trans fat. Neither Arnold nor Pepperidge Farm 100% whole wheat bread has any trans fat or saturated fat.
There's a little bit of trans fat in some meats, but this health hazard is almost entirely man made. Trans fats are used in fast-food cooking because they don't spatter. But they also help solidify margarine and baked foods. They are cheap to produce and easy to use. Like saturated fats, they hurt your health.
Saturated fats are the only fats given special treatment on a product's label. Yet trans fats are just as bad. They may even be worse.
"Trans fat increases 'bad' LDL cholesterol -- in some studies more than saturated fat," Lipman says. "It also has a tendency to reduce 'good' HDL cholesterol, which saturated fat doesn't do. They work together as a pretty formidable instigator of clogged arteries and heart disease."
That's not all. Trans fat also increases blood levels of two other bad actors. One is the kind of fat called triglycerides. The other is a particle called lipoprotein(a), which promotes clogged arteries.
Since 1999, the FDA has tried to get manufacturers to label foods for trans fats. The food industry strenuously objected. But a recent report from the prestigious Institute of Medicine now points to trans fats as a health hazard. The result: The FDA will act in March, an FDA spokesperson tells WebMD. Once it does, food manufacturers will have one year to comply.
"Trans fats may be hidden, but they are no worse than other fats," Gene Grabowski, spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers of America Inc., tells WebMD. "Singling out any kind of fat as being worse than any other is not supported by science."
"Any amount of trans fat is bad," Lipman says. "Nobody knows how much trans fat is too much."
Public awareness of trans fats already is making a difference. Frito-Lay tells Consumer Reports that it plans to eliminate trans fat from Cheetos, Doritos, and Tostitos. And McDonald's says it will cut out nearly half the trans fat in its french fries -- although fast-food fries will never be healthy food.