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How Much Trans Fat in Those Fries?

It Depends Where in the World You Buy Them, Study Shows
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 12, 2006 -- You may get more trans fat in chicken nuggets and french fries bought at McDonald's and KFC restaurants in New York City than in France, London, or Russia, doctors report in The New England Journal of Medicine.

In a letter to the journal, Steen Stender, MD, and colleagues show that trans fat levels vary worldwide -- and sometimes within the same country -- for McDonald's and KFC chicken nuggets and french fries.

Stender works at Gentofte University Hospital in Hellerup, Denmark. While traveling for other reasons between November 2004 and September 2005, Stender and colleagues ordered a large serving of french fries (171 grams) and chicken nuggets (160 grams) at McDonald's or KFC restaurants in 43 U.S. and international locations.

The researchers analyzed the foods' total fat and trans fat content.

Tracking Trans Fat

Trans fat, or trans fatty acids (TFA), are fats found in foods such as vegetable shortening, some margarines, and many processed foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils.

Trans fat, like saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, raises the LDL (or "bad") cholesterol that increases your risk for heart disease, according to the FDA.

"It is recommended that the consumption of trans fat be as low as possible," write Stender and colleagues.

Stender's team writes that "the content of trans fatty acids varied from less than 1 gram in Denmark and Germany, to 10 grams in New York (McDonald's) and 24 grams in Hungary (KFC)."

Those numbers combine trans fat content for the chicken nuggets and french fries.

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