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The Trans Fatty Acids Food List: What To Avoid

Sep 15, 2009

Foods containing trans fatty acids also contain the worst ingredients that you can include in your diet. Studies have shown that diets high in trans fats lead to health problems such as stroke, diabetes and coronary heart disease. There is even more evidence that these foods help contribute to cancer, obesity, infertility and liver dysfunction. With all these negative effects, it is easy to see why a diet high in these fats should be avoided.

Where are Trans Fats Present?

The foods that contain the most trans fat overall are those that are processed, as well as virtually every kind of fast food available. While many of these foods taste so good, they are slowly working to harm your body. It is recommended that you work to include 0 trans fat in your diet, though the American Heart Association has advised limiting your trans fat consumption to less than 1%. Though this may be difficult at first, once you cut many of these processed foods out of your diet, you won’t miss them much.

Foods to Avoid

Originally created to enhance flavor, extend shelf life and improve texture, these fats are present in a myriad of foods that many people eat on a daily basis. Small amounts of these fats occur in lamb, beef and full fat dairy, however they are most often present when vegetable oil is processed to solid fat.

Because of FDA food labeling laws and consumer awareness, many food manufacturers have worked to reformulate their products in a way that reduces or eliminates these fats. However, these fats still exist in many products that you may not expect. You should look for trans fats in any of these products:

  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Cakes
  • Muffins
  • Pie crusts
  • Pizza dough
  • Margarine
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Cake mixes
  • Pancake mixes
  • Chocolate drink mixes
  • Donuts
  • French fries
  • Potato chips
  • Candy
  • Packaged popcorn
  • Frozen dinners

Trans Fat Labeling on Foods

The FDA allows labels of 0g trans fat on anything with .5g or less of trans fat per serving, so even if you are trying to be conscientious, you may end up eating a significant amount of trans fats. For this reason, in addition to looking at the nutritional facts, you should also look at the ingredients list. Anything that contains “partially hydrogenated” oil contains trans fat. Though it may only be a small amount, these fats add up quickly, and single servings are often quite a bit less than one would eat.   

Because most of the foods that contain trans fats are snack foods, even without containing trans fats, they are not necessarily nutritionally sound. They are often loaded with empty calories and should be avoided regardless. The only way to have a truly healthy diet is to eat a wide mix of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

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