Trans Fats...The Deadly Fat (cont.)

Although the updated Nutrition Facts panel will now list the amount of trans fat in a product, it will not show a %Daily Value (% DV). While scientific reports have confirmed the relationship between trans fat and an increased risk of CHD, none has provided a reference value for trans fat or any other information that FDA believes is sufficient to establish a Daily Reference Value or a % DV.



Sample Nutrition Facts Label for Macaroni and Cheese

Saturated fat and cholesterol, however, do have a % DV. To choose foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, use the Quick Guide to % DV. The general rule of thumb is: 5% DV or less is low and 20% DV or more is high.

You can also use the % DV to make dietary trade-offs with other foods throughout the day. You don't have to give up a favorite food to eat a healthy diet. When a food you like is high in saturated fat or cholesterol, balance it with foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol at other times of the day.

This graphic of the Nutrition Facts panel illustrates which nutrients experts recommend you limit and which they recommend you consume in adequate amounts.

Do Dietary Supplements Contain Trans Fat?

Would it surprise you to know that some dietary supplements contain trans fat from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil as well as saturated fat or cholesterol? It's true. As a result of FDA's new label requirement, if a dietary supplement contains a reportable amount of trans or saturated fat, which is 0.5 gram or more, dietary supplement manufacturers must list the amounts on the Supplement Facts panel. Some dietary supplements that may contain saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol include energy and nutrition bars.

Practical Tips for Consumers!

Here are some practical tips you can use every day to keep your consumption of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol low while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.

  • Check the Nutrition Facts panel to compare foods because the serving sizes are generally consistent in similar types of foods. Choose foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. For saturated fat and cholesterol, use the Quick Guide to % DV: 5% DV or less is low and 20% DV or more is high. (Remember, there is no % DV for trans fat.)


  • Choose Alternative Fats. Replace saturated and trans fats in your diet with mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These fats do not raise LDL (or "bad") cholesterol levels and have health benefits when eaten in moderation.


  • Sources of monounsaturated fats include olive and canola oils.


  • Sources of polyunsaturated fats include soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil and foods like nuts and fish.


  • Choose vegetable oils (except coconut and palm kernel oils) and soft margarines (liquid, tub, or spray) more often because the amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol are lower than the amounts in solid shortenings, hard margarines, and animal fats, including butter.

  • Consider Fish. Most fish are lower in saturated fat than meat. Some fish, such as mackerel, sardines, and salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids that are being studied to determine if they offer protection against heart disease.


  • Choose Lean Meats, such as poultry (without skin, not fried), lean beef and pork (trim visible fat, not fried).


  • Ask Before You Order When Eating Out. A good tip to remember is to ask which fats are being used in the preparation of your food when eating or ordering out.


  • Watch Calories. Don't be fooled! Fats are high in calories. All sources of fat contain 9 calories per gram, making fat the most concentrated source of calories. By comparison, carbohydrates and protein have only 4 calories per gram.


  • Here are two actions consumers can take to keep their intake of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol "low":

    • Look at the Nutrition Facts panel when comparing products. Choose foods low in the combined amount of saturated fat and trans fat and low in cholesterol as part of a nutritionally adequate diet.

    • When possible, substitute alternative fats that are higher in mono- and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.

Source: CFSAN/Office of Nutritional Products, Lableling, and Dietary Supplements, January 16, 2004: Updated March 3, 2004; Updated Jan. 1, 2006 (www.cfsan.fda.gov).


Last Editorial Review: 7/10/2006