Where the worst type of fat is hiding in supermarket foods

Lurking on supermarket shelves, within colorful, seemingly harmless packages, is something that can cause serious harm to your health: trans fat. “No amount of trans fat is acceptable, from a health standpoint,” says registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Where the worst type of fat is hiding in supermarket foods

About trans fat

Trans fats in the diet come mostly from partially hydrogenated oils. They’re made by a process that uses hydrogen gas to turn vegetable oils into solids. This new form of fat extends a food’s shelf life and improves flavor and texture. It’s been a mainstay in processed foods—such as pastries, crackers, margarine, and corn chips—for decades.

But artificial trans fats are the worst fats you can eat. They increase “bad” LDL cholesterol, decrease “good” HDL cholesterol, raise the risk of blood clots, and boost inflammation—all of which increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Trans fats are so bad for you that the FDA is essentially banning them in processed food starting in 2018.

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