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Trans Fats - Pubic Enemy #1 (in food, anyway)

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As a mom, I feel that providing good nutrition for my children is a top priority.  The things that are in our food are not always safe and in some cases are downright dangerous. I feel that it is my responsibility to know what exactly it is that my baby is putting in her mouth. (You know, besides, the usual streamers, boardbooks and small objects)  Today, let’s look at trans fat.  To me this is the number one “do not consume” item on our food shelves today.

Trans fatty acids are created by forcing hydrogen through an oil at high temperatures, often with a metal catalyst, such as nickel and cadmium.  (Wait aren’t those dangerous for the human body?) This causes the oils to solidify, yet they won’t break down, making them an ideal butter replacement in food products where you want a long shelf life.

This process is called hydrogenation.  Partial hydrogenation is still hydrogenation.  According to the FDA:  “If the serving contains less than 0.5 gram (of trans fats) the content… shall be expressed as zero.” Now, let’s think about that.  Imagine Bob and Fred, charged with labeling a new kind of salad dressing.

Bob: What should we list for the serving size?

Fred: I think 2 tablespoons is standard.

Bob: Hmm, the trans-fat content for 2 tablespoons is 0.6 grams, our bosses aren’t going to like that.

Fred: Good point, let’s put the serving at 1 ½ Tablespoons, that will get us down to 0.49 grams, and we don’t have to declare that.

The moral of the story: If the word “hydrogenated” is on the label, there is trans fat in the product.

Now, what is wrong with trans fat, anyway? Trans fats enter your body and take the place of natural fatty acids that your body needs and knows how to process, but your body doesn’t know how to use or process there interlopers.  Instead, they mess up your metabolism and energy levels.  They increase bad (LDL) cholesterol, while decreasing the good (HDL).  They contribute to arterial plaque (crud in your arteries) and heart disease.  They increase your risk for diabetes and problems with brain development (think autism and ADHD) and the list goes on and on.  This is bad stuff.  You don’t want ANY of it in your diet.  ‘Nuff said.