Where Are Trans Fats Hiding?

How do you limit these harmful fats? Print out this list of 10 foods to beware and take it to the supermarket!

By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson, MD

Trans fatty acids -- better known as "trans fats" -- have emerged as the food industry's newest bad boy.

Trans fats are formed during a process called hydrogenation, which converts a relatively healthy, unsaturated liquid fat -- like corn oil or soybean oil -- into a solid one. This gives the fat longer shelf life, so it's convenient for restaurants and food manufacturers.

The problem: The body treats hydrogenated fat more like saturated fat, like butter or animal fat. Saturated fat has long been known to clog arteries -- and some studies indicate trans fat may be a bit more evil. But on food labels, trans fatty acids are not included under "saturated fat."

What to Do, What to Do...

To help consumers, the Food and Drug Administration is requiring that all food labels list trans fats by January 1, 2006. Until then, how can you know which foods are safe and which contain these stealth fats?

For guidance, WebMD turned to the nation's nutrition gurus -- the experts at the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

"Until now, consumers were really in the dark about trans fatty acids. In fact, most people are probably very confused right now," says Cindy Moore, MS, RD, an ADA spokesperson. Moore is also director of nutrition therapy at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.