Trans Fats 101
Trans fats. Everyone is talking about them. What are they and why are they so bad for you? Well, trans fats are those fats that are typically created when liquid vegetable oils are turned into solid fats. This is accomplished through a process called “hydrogenation”. What happens is hydrogen gas is pumped into the oils at high heat and pressure creating an unnatural fat some call “frankenfats”. The level of hydrogenation can vary. As the degree of hydrogenation increases, the proportion of polyunsaturates decreases. This is bad. The amount of trans fats, on the other hand, increases. This is very bad.

Trans fats can clog your arteries (think about what would happen if you poured hot bacon grease in your kitchen sink every day). They can increase LDL or “bad” cholesterol and lower HDL, or “good cholesterol. Trans fats have been linked to many diseases including coronary heart disease (CHD). The Harvard School of Public Health conservatively estimates that 30,000 premature deaths per year in the U.S. are attributable to trans fatty acids. Trans fats have also been linked to an increased risk for diabetes. Trans fats are so controversial, some consumer watchdog groups are calling on the government to ban them outright.

Ok, so trans fats are bad. So why are they used so much? Simple. They’re more cost-effective. In restaurants, hydrogenated vegetable oils used in deep fryers tend to resist breakdown better than non-hydrogenated vegetable oils. As a result, it’s possible to go a month or more between “oil changes”. In the supermarket, trans fats are widely used in processed foods because they allow for a longer shelf life. The longer a food product can sit on a store shelf, the better from a manufacturer’s point of view. In fact, trans fats are in over 40% of the foods in your supermarket (including candies, crackers, cookies, cereals, snacks, baked goods, fried foods, and popcorn just to name a few). They’re even in the nutritional bars you buy in health food stores!

Right now, manufacturers aren’t required to list the amount of trans fats on a Nutrition Facts label. Some have begun doing so however. But remember this: just because a product says “0” trans fats doesn’t mean the product doesn’t have any trans fats in it. According to the FDA rule, if a serving of that food has less than 1/2 gram of trans fats, then it can be labeled as trans fat free. What you have to do is look at the other ingredients. To play it safe, we look for the words “hydrogenated”, “partially hydrogenated”, or even “fractionated” oils or fats on food labels. You should be aware of shortening as well. Also, the closer to the top these ingredients appear, the more trans fats the product will likely have.

We don’t like trans fats. And we don’t think you should have to worry about them either. That’s why our bars have 0 trans fats in them. We don’t use any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. We don’t use fractionated oils either. We don’t need to. We make bars the old fashioned way, in small batches to ensure freshness every time. So until January 2006, if you want to know if your bar has trans fats in them, we suggest calling the manufacturer. But if you are looking for a bar that’s done right, without any of those trans fats, then pick any one of our delicious flavors. By the way, you'll also be glad to know that our bars are also free of gluten, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives.

 

 

 

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