Looking to lose weight? Try our FREE Calorie Counter »  |  Log In
Articles Fitness Nutrition

The Myth of Zero Trans Fat Cookies

Jul 28, 2010

Cookies are one of the most loved snacks by children and adults alike. Once you get started on them, it is difficult to stop. Enjoyable as they are, however, over consumption isn’t without consequences. This is because of the fat and sugar content. These 2 ingredients in most cases lead to weight gain. Food manufacturers have come up with a supposedly healthier alternative that contains no trans fats.

What are Trans Fats?

Unsaturated or trans fats are the worst form of fat in any diet. These fats are produced through a chemical process known as hydrogenation. Natural plant oils are combined with hydrogen to produce a man-made fat with a longer shelf life. Trans fats enhance the food flavor and improve texture. These fats are also cheap, another reason why manufacturers prefer to use them.

Dangers of Trans Fats

Consumption of unsaturated fats has serious consequences on health. These fats act as toxins for your body cells. They cause cell membranes to become leaky and distorted. Weak and damaged cells result in vitamin and mineral deficiency. Due to the decreased immunity, various disorders are more likely to develop in the body. Unsaturated fats increase blood cholesterol levels. At the same time, they lower the good cholesterol levels in the blood. Clogged arteries are more likely to result from consumption of bad fats. The likelihood of heart disease is higher in such a scenario. A link has also been established between consumption of trans fats and diabetes. Consumption of bad fats raises the risk of various types of cancer and other degenerative disorders. This is why it is recommended that only trace amounts of unsaturated fats should be consumed. Hence, the “zero trans fat” claim.

Zero Trans Fat Cookies Analyzed

Many leading cookie brands on the market came up with a “zero trans fat” variety. However, it has been discovered that these items are not entirely without fat as they claim. Many such products include partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients. When liquid oils are partially hydrogenated, trans fats are created in the process. Thus, food labels that include partially hydrogenated oils should serve as an alert to the presence of trans fats in the food item. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its 2006 ruling allowed manufacturers to use the “zero trans fat” claim provided the product has no more than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Since a “serving” is a variable, you may still end up consuming a considerable amount of fat even where a product claims not to contain trans fat. Manufacturers can create each serving to be of minimal proportions. This enables a serving to meet the 0.5 grams per serving trans fat claim. However, when you think about how many of such small portions you’d have to consume to get full, your trans fat intake may be quite high.

The “zero trans fat” claim shouldn’t be taken at face value. It is best to carefully inspect the nutrition and ingredients labels before you select a product. This will help you keep consumption of unsaturated fats to a minimum. Ingredients are listed in order of what proportions they occur in the product. The top 3 ingredients should quickly tell you what you’d primarily get from the product.

Article Comments