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Get excited about nutrition, and learn as you go with these information-packed resources on a wide variety of nutrition-centric topics! Our bistroMD experts review the importance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as how to make them work most efficiently for you.

The Top 5 Foods for Trans Fat

Most everyone knows that trans fats are to be avoided due to negative effects on the body. But in which foods are these unhealthy fats most commonly found?


Although nutrition professionals like to encourage that all foods can fit into a healthy diet, trans fats are a different story. With negative health consequences such as heart disease, it is obvious the recommended intake of trans fat is less than 1% of total daily calories, equivalent to 20 calories and 2 grams based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated the year 2018 as a deadline for trans fat to be taken out of processed foods. Until trans fat foods become deceased, it is important to be able to identify foods with a lot of trans fat.

Top 5 Worst Foods for Trans Fat

1. Sweet Treats

Not only are those desserts filled with sugar, they can also be rich in trans fat. When it really comes down to sweet treats such as donuts and cookies, their consumption should be based on a proper serving size and portion. Limiting them altogether will reduce the chance for weight gain and associated risks of type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol levels.

2. Dough

Specifically, prepackaged dough such as a dinner rolls and pizza and pie crusts contain trans fat. To limit or avoid trans fat in those baked products, create them yourself. Realistically, dough is simple to make and homemade products allow for control over the ingredients.

3. Fried Foods

Fried foods are notorious for their trans fat content. Instead of fried options on restaurant or fast food menus, look for grilled or baked options. More than likely, restaurants are able to provide these lighter options. At home, ditch the hydrogenated vegetable oils and bake in the oven or seared on the stove top. Not only will these healthier alternatives reduce trans fat, but total calories.

4. Chips

Just like fried foods, the majority of chips and related snack foods contain trans fat. Even though popcorn is typically identified as a "better-for-you" snack option, stay weary of the trans fat content. Popcorn can be enhanced with the introduction of hydrogenated oils, thus being a significant source of trans fat. To stay on the safe side, prepare popcorn at home or check nutrition and ingredient labels.

5. Margarine

Like mentioned with popcorn, margarine is a wide known source of trans fat. Compared to its butter counterpart, debate was previously in question on which is better for the body. Although the consumption of butter should be moderated, the components of butter occur naturally and more ideal than hydrogenated margarine.

Realistically, all foods listed above should be consumed in moderation following a healthy lifestyle. To get a better grasp on trans fat intake, utilize the nutrition facts and ingredient labels. Ideally, choose foods that lack trans fat entirely. Additionally, stray away from ingredients and foods that contain "hydrogenated oils" or "hydrogenation" altogether. Although the body does need fat, choose foods rich in unsaturated fat. Implementing monounsaturated (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated (PUFAs) fats within the diet can allow the body to maintain its necessary body processes while keeping cholesterol levels within a normal range or unharmed.

Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on March 04, 2016. Updated on March 23, 2016.


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