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Trans fats are formed in industries when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, causing it to solidify at normal temperature (room). These unsaturated fats have two varieties, namely: artificial and natural.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has banned food companies from incorporating artificial trans fats into beverages and foods. The bacteria found in animals like cattle, goats, and sheep form natural trans fats where they comprise 3 to 7% of dairy products like cheese and milk fats. However, artificial trans fats form mainly in the hydrogenation process. Researchers have found that taking trans fats is harmful and causes inflammation heart disease, decreases “good” HDL, and increases “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Besides, experts have discovered that artificial trans fats are more harmful than natural ones. Read this blog to know which common foods have trans fats.

i.                    French fries

Trans fats are made by hydrogenating vegetable oil. Several restaurant chains do not fry in slight hydrogenated oils, thus lowering trans fats amount significantly in different foods such as French fries. Others include Burger King, McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, Jack in the box, and Wendy’s. However, some manufacturers are not embracing the routine, for instance, Cajun fries still have 3.5 g of this fat.

ii.                  Piecrust and pie

Baked products mostly contain trans fats, but several main restaurant chains like Burger King and McDonald’s have eliminated slightly hydrogenated oil especially, from apple pie. Many varieties of trans fats can be found in groceries. Nonetheless, cream pies and Marie Callender’s frozen fruit contain 1 and 4 g of these fats per serving.

iii.                Margarine sticks

Previously, margarine was considered a healthier substitute for butter since it was manufactured from vegetable oils in place of animal products or dairy. Most manufacturers would use hydrogenated oils rich in saturated or trans-fat to solidify margarine, making it unsuitable for human consumption.Thus, the kinds of margarine sold on the market were rich in harmful fats. Recently, some companies have been producing margarine void of trans fats. Notably, certain non-hydrogenated oils might have these fats. In case you want to avoid trans fats from vegetable oils and margarine, select the healthier ones like coconut oils.

iv.                Frostings and cake mixes

Whenever you get a muffin or cake mix denoted non-trans fat, there can be found another word written as “shortening,” implying that some traces of these fats are present. Additionally, some frosting products have only 1.5 g per serving.

v.                  Waffles and pancakes

Waffle and pancake mixes often have slightly hydrogenated oils, and certain unpopular brands have these fats. Bisquick obtains its fats from the products used in processing while complete still and Bisquick original have high, slightly hydrogenated oils. Whenever purchasing waffle and pancakes, select Heart Smart Formulas or Bisquick Gluten Free.

vi.                Ice cream

Certain flavorings contained in ice creams like coffee, green tea, butter pecan, rum raisin have 0.5 g of these fats per serving. However, the telltale outline of slightly hydrogenated oils is not found when reading the ingredients. This might be due to trans fats that occur naturally in dairy products. In this regard, these fats are better than artificial ones in human health. Further, such products contain high-calorie numbers, therefore the intake should be controlled.

vii.              Non-dairy creamers

For coffee consumers, these products are merged into their morning hours. However, they can increase trans fats in your body in case you consume them for long. The manufacturers of these products explain that they are in the process of eliminating trans fats from them. Powdered Coffee-mate is reported to have hydrogenated oils instead of slightly hydrogenated oils.

viii.            Ground beef

Even though some restaurants attempt to eliminate slightly hydrogenated fats from fried diets, many burgers have high amounts of these harmful fats. Nutritionists show that various beef sausages, ground beef, hot dogs, and frozen burgers have trans fats. As such, animal products such as fried foods do not qualify as the healthiest food. Taking plant-related foods rather than meat, particularly red meat seems to be a better pick.

ix.                Vegetable shortening

Shortening refers to any fat variety that solidifies at room or normal temperature. Mostly, this fat is utilized in baking and cooking. Many vegetable shortenings are manufactured from slightly hydrogenated oils and were first invented to replace butter. Vegetable shortening is famous in baking because it is rich in fat components, making flakier and softer pastry than many shortenings such as butter and lard. Recently, manufacturers are lowering the amounts of harmful oils when making shortenings, hence achieving non-trans fat products safe for consumption. Nonetheless, it is challenging to determine whether some shortenings have these fats or not. This is because the manufacturers are permitted to indicate that the products have 0 grams, provided the content of these fats is 0.5 g and below per serving. When determining whether a shortening has some trans fats, check the ingredients and in case they indicate slightly hydrogenated oil that confirms the presence of trans fats.

x.                  Fried Fast Meals

Fried fast foods like battered fish, French fries, fried chicken, fried noodles, and hamburgers might contain significant trans fats amounts. These foods obtain their fats from different sources, and consuming them in large amounts might threaten your health. Takeaways and some restaurants chains fry their meals, particularly using vegetable oil. In relation, this oil might have trans fats that dissolve in food, making it unhealthy. Moreover, frying at high temperatures increases the trans fat level in the food, which further increases every time this oil is repeatedly used in frying. It is not easy to shun these fats provided you consume fried food. Therefore, limiting the intake of such foods is recommendable.


Trans fats affect human health negatively, and most of them are unsaturated. Manufactured or artificial trans fats are made during hydrogenation, while dairy and other animal products contain natural trans fats. Notably, artificial trans fats are more harmful than natural ones, although both have negative bearing on health. Even though the FDA prohibited trans fats from the market, some types like non-dairy, baked, or fried foods are still available. To lower your fats intake, ensure that the ingredients and labels do not have ‘slightly hydrogenated oil’ when purchasing the above-discussed foods. Also, avoid excess consumption of fried foods and overusing fats for frying as this supplies the body with more trans fats.

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MS, University of Tartu Sleep specialist Using the acquired academic and professional experience, I advise patients with various complaints about mental health - depressed mood, nervousness, lack of energy and interest, sleep disorders, panic attacks, obsessive thoughts and anxieties, difficulty concentrating, and stress. In my free time, I love to paint and go on long walks on the beach. One of my latest obsessions is sudoku – a wonderful activity to calm an unease mind.

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