Once you realize the dangers of foods high in saturated fat and trans fats, take the next steps to identify the foods and find more healthy substitutions. To reduce the saturated fats and trans fats in your diet, read food labels for the amount of saturated fats and for “partially hydrogenated” oil, which indicates that trans fats are present. Better yet, make more of your own food from scratch using more healthy ingredients.
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Follow the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and limit your diet to about 22 g of saturated fat each day, or even as low as 15 g for the best protection against heart disease. The guidelines don’t offer specific recommendations for trans fats, but instead recommend that the less you eat, the better. The American Heart Association recommends less than 2 g per day of trans fats.
Manufacturers hydrogenate most margarines to help them remain spreadable and have a long shelf life, creating trans fats in the process. According to Marion Nestle, author of “What to Eat,” soy oil, a typical oil for margarine, contains 58 percent of polyunsaturated fat, 23 percent monounsaturated fat and 14 percent saturated fat. After processing, partially hydrogenated soy margarine has 25 percent polyunsaturated fats, 50 percent monounsaturated fat and 20 percent saturated fats, or about 2 g each of trans fat and saturated fat.
Household shortening has about 3.2 g of saturated fat per tbsp. and about the same amount of trans fat, according to the USDA food database. Industrial shortening used for baked goods and pastries has between 2.5 g and 5.5 g of saturated fat per tbsp., and also contains up to 3 g of trans fat per tbsp.
Because they use shortening and margarine, manufactured desserts are normally high in both saturated fat and trans fat. One brand of cake contains 3.5 g of saturated fat and 4.5 g of trans fat according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A slice of pound cake could contain 3.5 g of saturated fat and 4.5 g of trans fat, and a doughnut might have 4.5 g of saturated fat and 5 g of saturated fat, according to the USDA database.
Read the labels to find the healthiest versions of snack foods. One brand of mini-sandwich crackers has 2 g of saturated fat and 2 g of trans fat in one serving, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A small bag of potato chips has 2 g of saturated fat and 3 g of trans fat.
Substitute small amounts of real butter or butter-canola oil blends for the margarine in your diet, and choose soft margarine instead of hard margarine to reduce trans fats. Bake your own desserts using monounsaturated oils, such as canola or olive oil, instead of butter or margarine.