The 22 Worst Foods for Trans Fat
Trans fat is dangerous
Trans fat can make food taste good, last longer on grocery-store shelves, and more hazardous for your heart. The good news is that many manufacturers and fast-food chains have removed or reduced this type of fat in their products. That means Americans now consume 80% fewer trans fats than they did a decade ago, says Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, a spokesperson with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
But experts say zero intake is best for health, and there are still foods out there that contain trans fat. Ten years ago it was easier to spot, says Dubost, because it was in most fried foods and packaged crackers, cookies, cakes, and coffee creamers. Today it's more difficult to tell.
"You have to look at the actual brand," says Dubost. "You have to do some investigative work." Here are some potential sources of trans fat to watch out for. (And by 2018 no U.S. foods will contain manufactured trans fat, due to a ban by the Food and Drug Administration.)
Many restaurant chains have stopped frying food in partially hydrogenated oils and so have significantly reduced trans fat levels in french fries and other foods. These include McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, and Dairy Queen.
But others have been slow to embrace the trend: A large Cajun fries from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, for example, still contains 3.5 grams of trans fat.
Anything fried or battered
Look at the establishment's web site to see what kind of oil they use. "A lot of them are voluntarily listing that on web sites right now," says Dubost.
If not, just ask when you get there.
Whether or not they're using partially hydrogenated oil, it's best for your heart to stay clear of fried foods anyway.
Pie and piecrust
You can still find the trans-fat varieties in your grocery store, however: Many varieties of Marie Callender's frozen fruit and cream pies have between 1 and 4 grams of trans fat per serving.
As for piecrust, Pillsbury Frozen Pot Pie Crust Dough has 15 grams of trans fat (per pie).
Watch the video: How to Make a Pie Crust Using Quinoa
Steer clear of Blue Bonnet Regular Sticks (1.5 grams per serving), and instead opt for whipped, reduced-fat, or fat-free soft spreads. Get more tips here: Butter vs. Margarine: How to Choose.
Companies are allowed to round down and put "0 grams" on the nutrition label if their product has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. But if you do a lot of bakingor a lot of eating once the cookies come out of the oventhose trace amounts can add up to unhealthy levels.
Cake mixes and frostings
Plus, you still need to worry about how you're going to top your creation. Duncan Hines's Vanilla Classic Home Style frosting contains 1.5 grams per serving. Betty Crocker's Homestyle Fluffy White Frosting Mix, however, is trans fat-free.
And some mixes do still have trans fats, such as Duncan Hines Double Fudge Brownie Mix (0.5 grams).
Pancakes and waffles
Bisquick has taken trans fats out of some of its products but Bisquick Original and Complete still list partially hydrogenated oil high on the ingredients list. Opt for Bisquick Gluten Free or Heart Smart formulas.
Watch the video: 9 New Pancake Recipes
That may be because there are naturally occurring trans fats in fat-containing dairy products, which are thought to not be as dangerous as the manufactured trans fat. These products are high in calories, however, so you should still watch your intake.
Powdered Coffee-Mate now contains hydrogenated oils, rather than partially hydrogenated oils. Although not technically trans fats or considered harmful to your health, hydrogenated oils do contain some saturated fat.
Case in point: Orville Redenbacher's microwave popcorn. The Pour Over Movie Theater butter flavor contains 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, and the Caramel flavor contains 1.5 grams.
Pop Secret is even worse: The butter and jumbo pop movie theater butter flavors each contain 5 grams of trans fat per servingmore than 15 grams per bag!
RELATED: 10 Healthy Flavored Popcorn Recipes
You'll also find trans fat in many frozen burgers, beef sausages, beef hot dogs, and ground beef.
But animal products, like fried foods, don't make for the healthiest of diets. Instead of meat, especially red meat, go for plant-based foods.
Cookies and Cakes
Beware of store-bought frozen desserts, some of which contain trans fats, Pepperidge Farm Classic Coconut Layer Cake and Sara Lee Strawberry Cream Cake among them. Each has 2.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
Biscuits and sweet rolls
And check the grocery-store type. Pillsbury's refrigerated Cinnabon Inspired Cinnamon Rolls have 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Other varieties don't have trans fat on the label but do have partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients including Pillsbury's Grands! Homestyle Buttermilk.
Unfortunately that's not always true for breakfast sandwiches served on biscuits at other chains, such as Carl's Jr.. Some sandwiches have 6 grams of trans fat. And at the grocery store, steer clear of White Castle hamburgers and cheeseburgers (0.5 and 1 gram of trans fat per serving respectively.
Watch the video: How to Make a Healthier Bacon-and-Egg Sandwich
Frozen or creamy beverages
A 20-ounce Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Arctic Avalanche contains a whopping 9 grams of trans fat. Across the board, many of the restaurant shakes and creamy drinks we looked at contained half a gram or a gram (hot chocolate beverages too), but nothing came close to this over-the-top blend of soft-serve ice cream and cookie dough mix-ins.
Instead of processed meat sticks, aim to eat more plant-based snacks such as fruit or raw vegetables. And get most of your protein from heart-healthy fish, poultry, lentils, soybeans, and nuts.
To be sure you're buying crackers that contain no trans fat, read the ingredients list before even looking at the nutrition label. Choose snacks that avoid partially hydrogenated oils altogether, such as Stacy's Pita Chips or Annie's Bunnies.
Frozen dinners and microwave meals are some of the biggest problems. Marie Callender's Country Fried Beef, Grilled Chicken Alfredo Bake, and Fettuccini Alfredo dinners, for example, each contain 0.5 grams of trans fat.
RELATED: 13 Healthy Frozen Dinners
Asian crunchy noodles
Partially hydrogenated oils can also lurk in packages of ramen noodles and microwave soup cups.
A better bet is the company's trans-fat free turkey chili, which also has fewer calories and less saturated fat.
The brand's other flavors all claim no trans fat on their nutrition labels, but it's a good idea to read the ingredients list of any pudding or creamy dessert to rule out low levels of partially hydrogenated oils flying under the radar.