I know you want to live a healthy and happy life. And I’m here to help.
That’s why I completely changed my post for this week to meet your needs.
Since last week’s post, I’ve received TONS of questions about the worst fat for your health (aka trans fat). For the record, I’m so glad you asked. Because this is SUCH an important topic.
Trans fats are so incredibly TOXIC to the body that I knew I needed to answer my most frequently asked questions.
As a recap, last week you learned ALL about trans fats. Why they are the WORST fat for your health, common food sources, and how they hide in food. If you need a refresher, click here.
So today, I am answering YOUR questions and questions I commonly receive about trans fats in quick fire.
Q: Should I really care about trans fats?
Are you catching my urgency here?
There is a large amount of high quality evidence showing trans fats lead to serious health problems.
This is not rumor or myth. If you want more information and studies, check out this post.
Q: Skye, if trans fats are so bad for you, why do companies use them?
This is an excellent question. Trans fats are used for several reasons.
One, they are cheap for food manufacturers.
Two, trans fats extend the shelf life of foods. Natural oils (such as olive or safflower) go rancid much faster. Using hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats) extends shelf life dramatically.
Three, trans fats give foods a desirable taste and texture. They allow liquid oils to be solid or semi-solid at room temperature (think margarine). They give nondairy creamers a creamy texture.
Four, trans fats used to deep-fry food can be reused multiple times before replacing. This means convenience and cost savings for manufacturers.
You can see, there are many reasons why a food manufacturer would want to use trans fats (but no good reasons for your health).
Q: Trans fats scare me! How can I make sure I avoid trans fats?
I hear you. Trans fats are scary.
The good news is you don’t need them AT ALL in your diet.
Some tips to avoid trans fats:
- Shop the periphery of the store
- Make your own food from scratch
- Shop at retailers that are trans fats free (such as Whole Foods or PCC)
Q: Skye, I love non-dairy creamer in my coffee. Now I know my favorite one has partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil [a trans fat]. What can I use instead?
This is a tough one because I know people LOVE their French Vanilla, Hazelnut, or Irish Cream nondairy creamer.
Here are some ideas:
- Use real half-and-half or cream. If you miss the flavoring, add some natural vanilla or almond extract.
- Use coconut milk. Coconut milk is creamy, rich, and has a nice natural flavor.
- Try the 365 brand of coffee creamers (sold at Whole Foods). They definitely have sugar and oil, but are trans fat free.
- Drink your coffee black.
- Ditch the coffee and opt for a healthier beverage. Try my matcha tea latte or turmeric latte recipes.
Note: It may take time to acclimate to your new coffee and creamer routine. Don’t give up! Give yourself a solid week or two to adjust.
Q: Dr. McKennon, I loved the trans fat information. But . . . crackers are my favorite snack food. Does this mean I can never have crackers again?
You can absolutely have crackers. Just avoid the ones that have trans fats.
Because I feel for you (and want you to still enjoy your favorite snack), I’m giving you a table of cracker substitutes.
Another great option is Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers. These crackers are absolutely delicious and fine for gluten-free folks. You won’t miss the trans fat at all!
Q: I’m addicted to peanut butter. Do I have to give it up? Are there any brands of peanut butter that are free of trans fats?
You do NOT have to give up your peanut butter.
MANY commercial brands contain partially hydrogenated oils. The good news is manufactures are hearing the message: consumers don’t want trans fats! Therefore, many conventional brands are replacing the partially hydrogenated oils with fully hydrogenated oils.
My personal preference with food is to enjoy it in its most natural state. For peanut butter, this means I only want peanuts and maybe salt on my ingredient list.
As of today, the following options contain just peanuts and salt:
- Adam’s Natural peanut butter (found at most grocers)
- Trader Joe’s Organic peanut butter (found at Trader Joe’s)
- 365 Organic peanut butter (found at Whole Foods)
- Santa Cruz Organic peanut butter (found at health food stores and natural grocers)
- Once Again peanut butter (found at health food stores and natural grocers)
Q: How can I avoid trans fats when eating out?
This is another good one. Eating out can be tricky — you don’t have access to ingredient lists and labels.
Here are some tips to minimize your chances of having trans fats:
- Eat at trans fat free establishments
- Ask your waiter or the chef if trans fats (or partially hydrogenated oils) are used
- Avoid deep-fried foods (since many restaurants use partially hydrogenated oils in their fryers)
- Stick to freshly prepared vegetables, legumes, and fruits
Q: Are there trans fats in animal products?
Animal products may contain naturally occurring trans fats. Items such as beef, lamb, and butterfat may contain trans fat.
There are not sufficient studies to determine if naturally occurring trans fat is as detrimental to health as man made (such as partially hydrogenated oils).
The safe bet would be to avoid all trans fat until more information is available.
Q: What kind of diet should I follow to avoid trans fats?
Have a diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruit, and legumes.
- If you cook with oil, use naturally occurring oils that are unhydrogenated. Examples include olive oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.
- Check labels for trans fat and partially hydrogenated oils. Avoid ALL products that contain either.
- Stay away from commercially prepared cookies, crackers, pies, and cakes.
That wraps up the Q and A session on trans fats.
If you still have questions, please reach out! I’m always here for you.
Until next time,