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Targeting trans-fat

Avoiding trans-fats has become a common crusade — for good reason. Also known as trans-fatty acids or hydrogenated oil, the oil is treated with hydrogen for taste, texture, and longer shelf life. But it ups “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lowers “good” (HDL) cholesterol — raising your risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Consider these guidelines:

  • Limit trans-fat to one percent of your total calories, recommends the American Heart Association. If you’re taking in 2,000 calories a day, that’s 2 grams or less.

  • Deciphering nutrition labels can be tricky. If a food has less than half a gram of trans-fat per serving, it can be rounded down and listed as “0 grams.” So you could unknowingly get a gram or more of trans-fat with two to three servings of certain foods. To be safe, read labels and avoid products containing trans-fats altogether. Remember: Labels reading “partially hydrogenated oil” indicate trans-fat.

Foods that often have trans-fat include baked goods like cookies, crackers, biscuits, pastries, or pie crusts, as well as fries, doughnuts, and fried chicken. Many restaurant kitchens also use hydrogenated oils — so before ordering, ask what oil your dish contains. If they use any type of vegetable oil, or even butter, you are probably safe.

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