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How Much Is Too Much? continued...

"The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommendation is to limit the intake of trans fats, and with the help of food manufacturers, we can help educate Americans to make better food choices" says Nicklas.

Nutrition researcher Alice Lichtenstein, DrSc, says in addition to watching trans fats, one of the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease is to reduce the amount of animal fats in your diet as much as possible.

Total fats should make up no more than 25%-35% of your total daily calories, Lichtenstein tells WebMD. For example, someone who eats 2,000 calories a day should get 500 to 700 calories from fat -- about 55 to 75 grams of fat a day. And most of this should come from healthy fats.

Healthier oils include vegetable oils, such as corn, soybean, canola, and olive oils -- but not the tropical palm or coconut oils. Other ways to skim the saturated fat in your diet is to choose lean meats, such as skinless chicken and turkey, lean beef, and low-fat dairy, Lichtenstein says.

Changing Face of Foods

Food manufacturers are now looking for suitable replacements for trans fats.

The challenge to the food makers is to preserve the same great flavors while eliminating or minimizing the unhealthy trans fats. A flurry of "trans-fat free" products have popped up in recent years.

Trans-Fat Free Doesn't Equal Healthy

But just because a food package boasts "zero grams of trans fats" does not mean it is necessarily a healthy food says Ward, author of the 2006 Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids.

"Products with 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving can be labeled as '0' and if you eat large portions, the trans fats can add up quickly. Always check the total fat, saturated fat, and calories because it may be lacking in trans fats but it could be loaded with saturated fats or calories" she warns.

Remember trans fats when eating out. Keep in mind when you smell the aroma of the freshly baked doughnuts or french fries that these foods may not be labeled on the menu but they are a huge source of trans fats in our diets.

Mandatory labeling of trans fats should help improve the health of our nation, says Lichtenstein. Consumers will now have more choices and hopefully a better understanding that a food with the least amount of saturated and trans fats is a healthier option.

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