Most of us know that trans fats are bad for you. We know to look at the food labels of any packaged food to see if trans fats are present and to not buy it if there is. But, what you might not know is that even if the label says “0g” trans fat, there could be up to .5g of trans fat in there.
.5g might not seem like much but when you consider that many doctors recommend an intake of less than 2g of trans fat daily (and others recommend eliminating it completely), it is actually quite concerning.
How can they say zero when it’s not really zero you might ask? Because the FDA tells them to.
According to FDA regulations, if a product has less than .5g of trans fat it must be listed as 0 because at those small levels, an actual determination of amount is deemed too unreliable to put on the label.
So, in order to be sure that there really is NO TRANS FAT in a product, you have to dig a little deeper and read the ingredients. If you see listed in there “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil” or “shortening” then you can be sure the product contains trans fat. And, the higher up on the ingredient list any of these is listed, the more it has. (Ingredients have to be listed in order of predominance in the product. In the same vein, if you see sugar listed high up on the list, it’s no good either.)
When reading a food product label, it’s important to take the full picture into account. Don’t just look at trans fat or hydrogenated oils. You have to look at saturated fat too, as well as cholesterol, sugar, total carbs and fat. Also, don’t forget about reading the ingredients list for hidden trans fats and weird ingredients that are often carcinogens and highly toxic to your body over time. Unfortunately, in this day and age, you have to become a food product label reading expert in order to protect your body.
Our best advice – and what we recommend to all of our members – is to stay far away from food products and instead, eat food – REAL food like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, and slow-digesting starches like quinoa and brown rice. If you don’t recognize the ingredients listed on a package of food and if there are more than a handful of them, it is probably best to stay away from it. Also, try to eat organic as often as possible, to eat grass-fed, un-tampered with meat, to eat wild-caught fish instead of farm-raised and to eat foods that are non-GMO (not genetically modified).
Last, but certainly not least, if all this makes your head spin and you wish it didn’t have to be so complicated to eat healthy, then speak out. Call your local and state representatives and demand that the laws be changed. The more of us that speak up, the better our chances of real and substantive change.
P.S. It is important to note that trans fats are often found in deep-fried restaurant foods, doughnuts, cookies, cakes and muffins so beware of these when you are out dining or buying foods with no label attached.