Trans fats come largely from hydrogenated vegetable oils and and are used extensively in most processed foods. Partially hydrogenated oil are used despite a long history of research confirming their health risks. Trans fats both lower HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and at the same time raise your LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). Below are some foods that contain the most trans fats, and some foods we can eat to replace them.
1. Store-bought baked pastries- The pastry food industry is hesitant to switch away from trans fats because they are so economical to produce and because the shelf-life is so long. One of the reasons they need to use trans fats is because their products need to stay on the shelves for extended periods of time. At home, you don´t have the same problem. Using healthy oils and butter can greatly lower the amount of trans fats. The general rule when using margarine is to use the softest type you can find. The harder the margarine, the more trans fats. Also, since you get to choose your own margarine, it is easy to check at the supermarket for margarines that have no trans fats.
2. Avoid ´quick to make´ foods that come in a box. A prime example are those Macaroni and Cheese products. The rule here is that anything that contains a cheese or butter product that only requires a few minutes to cook is loaded with trans fats. These products absolutely need to have long shelf lives, which basically requires that they are made using trans fat oils. Macaroni and Cheese in particular is easy to make ´from scratch´ without using any trans fats. Unless you feel the need to have that box sitting on your shelf for 6 months, there is no reason to buy the ones with trans fats.
3 Deep fried food. Unless specifically stated, assume all deep frying is done in trans fat oil. There is a push in the fast food industry to switch to healthier oils, but so far it is not mandatory. Foods such as french fries or potato chips are loaded with bad oils.
4. Read labels whenever possible. There really has been a good push in the last few years to eliminate trans fats from food, one of the ways is with labeling. Trans fats are now required to be listed on all labels, this makes it much more likely that one product might have eliminated them altogether. The only way you will know is by comparing labels on the shelves. As more and more people become aware that trans fats are on labels, more producers of foods will gradually stop using them.
The easiest way to reduce trans fat consumption is to cook as much food as possible from raw materials. Store bought pastries and boxed meals are usually loaded with trans fats because the butter and cheese in those products is required to remain on shelves for very long times and still look fresh. Bake and cook as much as possible from home using margarines that are soft and specifically state they have low or no trans fats or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.