The Trans Fat Deception

0 Grams Trans Fat!

That is what the package says, but what does it mean? Could it be true?

You would think that if a package says zero grams of trans fats, then the food would have no trans fats in it, right?

Wrong! The label above lists partially hydrogenated vegetable oil as the third ingredient! (According to FDA guidelines, the ingredients must be listed in order - the most listed first, in order down to the least ingredient listed last).

If the food is broken down into serving sizes small enough so that there is less than 1/2 gram per serving, then they can put ZERO on the label. It appears that this is the case even if there is 0.49 grams of trans fat in that serving.

This is nothing new, however, and has been the case with regular fat as well for a long time. If a serving of a food had less than 1/2 gram of fat in it, then the manufacturer could put 0 grams fat on the label.

Why this is so important NOW is because trans fats are unlike any other fat - they are the worst fat out there. They wreak havoc with your body, causing irreparable damage to your cells.

What Trans Fats Do: They fool your body. Your cells are designed accept fatty acids - good fats. But trans fats are NOT good fats, and trick your cells. They are accepted by your body, but cannot be metabolized like a real fatty acid, and cannot be rejected. The integrity of your cell membrane is compromised and your cell is no longer able to function properly.

New Products Are Being Released...

That claim to be trans-fat free. Many truly are. Many are not. The only true way is to check the labels for ANY of these phrases:

* Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
* Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
* Partially Hydrogenated ANYTHING Oil
* Shortening
* Margarine

Trans Fat Free Margarine is being released now by many manufacturers. There is only one brand that we have seen that, when you check the ingredients, is truly trans fat-free, and that is Smart Balance (which can be found in most any grocery store).

The manufacturers that produce foods that claim to be trans fat-free (but contain trans-fats) rest their public position on the idea that the FDA has said that "the FDA .... recommends keeping your intake of both saturated and trans fats as low as possible."

Note that the manufacturer is lumping trans fats in with saturated fats as though they were even close to the same hazard - they are not.
(For the truth about Trans Fats and Saturated fats, we highly recommend reading this book: Trans Fats, by Judith Shaw).

How do they do it, then? Their explanation is with somewhat tricky language like this: "As a result, some products qualify, according to FDA guidelines, for 0g trans fat per serving although they have as one of their components partially hydrogenated vegetable oil."

The FDA has released new labeling guidelines that go into effect in 2006. Until that time, you will see many manufacturers adding the labels "No Trans Fats", "0 Grams Trans Fats", and other trans fat related information to their labels.

Unfortunately, the guidelines fall short, and there is only one way to truly know. That is to read the ingredient lists.

Trans Fat Tips:

** Zero Tolerance. Zero is the only amount of this poison that you should allow into your body.

** Read Ingredient Lists. Frustratingly, you cannot trust even the nutritional panel when it indicates "0 grams" of Trans Fats.

** Go Natural. You will find that natural foods (nuts, milk, butter, vegetables, fruits, etc) are all trans fat free.

** Choose Wisely. Olive oil for cooking. Butter for baking. Butter or Smart Balance as a condiment.

** No Margarine. Some claim to be trans fat free, but they aren't!

----FormulaZone Staff, November 28, 2004

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