Identifying Trans Fats

Heather Reese Health Guide
  • I keep hearing that I should avoid trans fat, but I don’t know what it is. How can I know if the food that I’m eating has trans fat?

    Trans fat was originally created in the early 1900’s as a replacement for lard. It became more widely used in the 1960’s when food manufacturers discovered that it could be used to replace saturated fat in baked and processed foods. The most familiar source of trans fat is margarine; however, it is important to note that not all margarines contain trans fat.

    Trans fat is created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, which is a liquid, to create a solid substance. Once considered to be a healthy substitute for saturated fat, recent research has proven quite the opposite to be true. Trans fat has been found to have an adverse effect on cholesterol levels, and has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease. It can be found in foods such as vegetable shortening, some margarines, crackers, candies, baked goods, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, salad dressings and many processed foods.
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    Recent research linking it with heart disease has pushed tans fat to the forefront of nutrition news. The FDA requires that all foods containing trans fat include it on their nutrition facts label. However, the FDA regulations only require that foods with more than 0.5 grams of trans fat disclose it on the label. This means that even though a food label does not list trans fat, the food item may contain trace amounts. To ensure that you are eating trans fat-free foods, avoid foods that list “shortening”, “hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” as an ingredient.

    My husband and I are both on a diet but he’s losing more weight than me! Why, and how can I speed up my weight loss so that I am losing more than him?

    You are not alone! Many women are frustrated by the fact that they lose weight at a slower rate than their male counterpart. Men often lose weight more quickly than women because they naturally have more muscle mass, which burns more calories per pound than fat. Therefore, men are going to burn more calories than women – even when they are sitting still.

    A one to two pound weight loss per week is considered healthy, but if you are losing less than that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are doing something wrong. Physical activity is an essential component to weight loss and weight maintenance. If you do not currently exercise, beginning an exercise program may boost your weight loss. Including weight training in this program can increase your muscle mass, which means you will burn more calories during exercise and at rest.

    Remember that weight loss is a journey and not a competition. Don’t focus on how your weight loss compares with your husband’s; rather focus on the health benefits of losing weight, eating healthy and exercising. And give yourself a pat on the back, weight loss isn’t easy and every success deserves congratulations.

    I am on Coumadin and my doctor told me that I should be on a special diet. What is the Coumadin diet?

  • Coumadin, or Warfarin, is commonly prescribed to patients to prevent blood clots from forming or moving. The technical term for this medication is an “anticoagulant” because it prevents your blood from coagulating or clotting; however, it is often referred to as a “blood thinner”. Coumadin works to prevent blood clots by reducing the number of clotting proteins in your blood so that it can flow more easily through your body.
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    If you are on a Coumadin diet you should monitor your intake of vitamin K, which is a vitamin that promotes blood clotting. Vitamin K works against Coumadin, and eating large quantities of foods that are high in vitamin K may interfere with the efficacy of the medication. It is a common misconception that people on Coumadin need to avoid vitamin K completely – maintaining a consistent intake and avoiding foods high in vitamin K is sufficient.

    The following foods are high in vitamin K and should be avoided if you are taking Coumadin: turnip greens, alfalfa, avocado, brussel sprouts, seaweed, soybean oil and green tea. You should not begin taking a vitamin supplement high in vitamin K while you are on Coumadin.
Published On: August 29, 2006