The age of Trans Fat

If you have read anything about trans fats lately, you’ve probably read enough to know their not good for you. Truthfully, this really shouldn’t come as a shock, though. It makes me laugh, however, as there are so many things that scientists have once tauted as good for you, then later, oops! This, being one of them. So, what exactly is trans fat? In layman’s terms, it’s a fat that can remain in its solid form, even at room temperature. Wow, doesn’t that just sound yummy?

But, as always, we want to know the rules before we play the game. So, did you know that the FDA (er, USDA?) allows up to .5 g of trans fat, per serving, in any given product and they can still say “zero trans fat per serving“? Interesting. So, here one thinks they’re avoiding the trans fat, when in reality, the company lowered their “per serving” size so they could still sneak the trans fat into their foods. After all, they just want the money. Not that I blame them—the only reason we work is for the money to provide for our families. But, in reality, we eat to nourish our bodies, and trans fat shouldn’t be part of our daily intake. :)

So, now that you know the rules, how do you play the game? Read the labels! Always, always, always read the label. As far as I understand, the USDA does not require that labels [yet] disclose if they have “zero trans fat” or not—that’s more of a marketing thing. So, for instance, grab your Skippy Peanut Butter. See where it says, “hydrogenated vegetable shortening”? Yah, that’s a fancy word for trans fat. :) They add it in there to keep the peanut butter stable, so you don’t have the peanut butter separating. Basically, it’s a convenience factor.

Are there alternatives? Well, in baking, yes. Use butter–real butter!  Some old recipes will contain Crisco or other vegetable shortening for pie crusts, etc. Using butter is tastiest, but makes for a difficult crust to roll-out; so, if you want to use lard—use, good ‘ol fashioned lard–that’s the best thing. Scary, isn’t it? To ingest lard? The irony is that it is better for you than trans-fat – at least it’s all natural!

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