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Eat Like an Egyptian

A New Health Enemy: Trans-Fat

What is trans-fat from the “white-coat” perspective?
What are the perils of trans-fats?
How can you avoid trans-fat?

Recently there has been much uproar over the health risks of trans-fats. You might be asking yourself: what exactly is trans-fat? How bad is it for you? back to top

What is trans-fat from the white-coat perspective?
In chemistry terms, a trans-fat is a monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat with a trans-shaped isomer fatty acid. Translated into normal language, that means that a fat molecule has been infused with more hydrogen atoms, making it boil at a higher temperature. This “hydrogenation” gives trans fats an advantage. Unlike unsaturated fats like olive oil that are liquid at room temperature, products high in trans fat remain solid on the shelf, making them more attractive to bakers. back to top

What are the perils of trans-fats?
Despite any cooking advantages, trans fats are dangerous to your health. The consumption of trans fats increases your level of “bad cholesterol,” increasing your risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. back to top

How can you avoid trans-fat?
Starting in January 2006, it became required for companies to list the amount of trans-fat in a particular food on a Food Nutrition Label. Foods that often have too a lot of trans-fat are vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, packaged snack foods, and some fried foods. There is no percent daily value of trans-fat because it is best to avoid it as much as you can. Try replacing foods with trans-fats with foods that contain unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats from olive oil, canola oil, or nuts are good for you in moderation. back to top

Information for this article has come from the FDA’s fact sheet on trans-fat. To read more, go to the FDA's website.

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