How to Spot Sneaky Forms of Trans Fats on Labels
We have learned in the whole grain series that manufacturers have loopholes they can create and use in labeling. This often dupes even the savviest shopper.
Manufacturers are only required to list grams of trans-fats in the nutritional panel if the item contains 0.5 grams or more per serving. If a serving contains 0.4 grams, it does not have to be listed. We learned in the last post that there is no safe level of trans-fats in the diet, so in our opinion, this is unsatisfactory.
You must read every ingredient on the label, searching for the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.”
One tablespoon of margarine (stick form) contains 3 grams of trans-fats. A medium order of French Fries contains 8 grams of trans-fats when cooked in partially hydrogenated oil. You can see how this adds up.
Have you seen the Crisco with zero trans fats on the shelves?
This is a reformulated version of soy and cottonseeds oils that produce the lowest amount of trans-fats. The ingredient “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” is listed in the product, but the nutritional panel serving size of 1 tablespoon can yield less than 0.5 grams of trans-fats. Again, no safe level of trans-fats exists.
When reading labels, also avoid mono and diglyceride as they are trans-fats in disguise.
When you go to the doctor, they may test you for your triglyceride level. They are testing how much fat you have in your bloodstream.
Mono, di, and triglycerides are all fats.
Almost all fats come in the form of triglycerides. It boils down to chemistry again – but it is number of fatty acid chains that combine with a glycerol molecule and we will leave it at that. Feel free to research more on this on your own!
The basic explanation of why mono and diglycerides are forms of trans-fats is this: they are food additives called emulsifiers that increase the fat count and improve the texture of foods just like trans-fats, but since the FDA only requires manufacturers to list trans-fat content derived from triglycerides.
So, in the same fashion that the manufacturer can alter serving sizes to keep the trans-fat levels below half of a gram per serving, they can use trans-fats from mono and diglycerides without needing to list them as a source of trans-fats on their label.
This is probably more than you ever thought you would need to know about fats, but we promised to give you all the reasons behind what we are teaching.
Now, we will go to the straight forward listing of which oils to use for cooking and how to use them safely.