Finding the Best Trans Fat Alternatives
Now that trans fats are out of many snack foods, what’s in?
Shopping Savvy for a Post Trans-Fat World
While the food industry searches for the best trans fat alternatives, what
can consumers do?
First, read the nutrition label carefully. Products that claim they have 0
trans fat may be high in saturated fat - or simply very high in calories.
Second, understand that you're probably still eating small amounts of trans
fats even if the package says 0 trans fats. According to the new FDA
guidelines, a product can have up to nearly 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving
and still carry the "0" trans fat label.
"This may not seem like much but it can add up," says Heller.
According to the American Heart Association, we should all limit our trans
fat intake to less than 1% of our total daily calories. So if you eat 2,000
calories a day that works to about 20 calories from trans fat - less than 2
grams a day.
Since some whole foods - such as dairy and meat - contain naturally
occurring trans fats, the only way to stay under that 2 gram a day limit is to
buy snack foods, baked goods, margarine, and fast food with absolutely no trans
fats, dietitians say.
But don't forget about saturated fat. Evaluate the total fat content,
including the amount of saturate fat. Choose foods that have the least amount
of saturated fat and that use healthy oils, such as canola oil.
Baking Without Trans Fats
For snacks truly free of trans fats, you might want to try the same solution
that Grandma used: Make your own.
For those willing to put in the time and effort, baking your own cakes and
cookies from scratch may be the way to go. The trick: Combine a healthy liquid
fat -- like grapeseed oil, walnut oil, or vegetable oil spreads-- with a fruit
puree like applesauce or prunes for bulk and texture. For healthier french
fries, choose an oil without trans fat -- such as canola oil -- and slice your
fries from a whole fresh potato.
Be sure to "count the calories and eat in moderation," Heller
reminds us. Just because an oil is unsaturated, or a cookie homemade, doesn't
mean you won't gain weight.