What Are Trans Fats Found In? These Foods Might Get A Little Bit Healthier With The New FDA Mandate

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated that over the next three years, the food industry must phase out artificial trans fats. The FDA predicts that this change could results in 7,000 less deaths from heart disease — the top cause of death in the U.S. — and 20,000 less heart attacks each year. Trans fats are in a ton of foods, and this change might affect the way some of your favorite snacks are made. So what kinds of food are artificial trans fats in?

First of all, back up. What are artificial trans fats? Vegetable oil is treated with hydrogen, and with high temperatures and pressure, the liquid becomes a solid. That solid then gets used in processed products like shortening to make them last longer, according to The Center for Science in the Public Interest. Natural trans fats are rare, and are found in some types of meat and dairy. In the 1990s, studies revealed that trans fats can have potentially fatal impacts, such as heart attacks and disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that, "individuals keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible" for health reasons. But now that things are changing, here are five common foods high in artificial trans fats that, with the FDA's ban, might become a little bit better for you.

Fries, Onion Rings — Really All Things Fried

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With up to 5 grams of trans fat, the San Francisco Chronicle reports fries are a top three trans fat source. Many restaurants fry potatoes in hydrogenated oils, a source of artificial trans fats. If you're making fried food at home, try using vegetable oil or another alternative to hydrogenated oil. According to Health.com, many restaurants like McDonald's have decreased the use of hydrogenated oils, but it's not the case everywhere.

Margarine & Shortening

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This one depends, but according to The Mayo Clinic, more solid margarine has more trans fat in it — the margarine stick has much more trans fat than the softer tub of margarine. So, that stick of margarine in your fridge you thought was healthier than butter? Maybe not.

Frozen Pizza

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Another heartbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported frozen pizza as a top source of trans fat. A single serving could pack up to five grams of trans fat, depending on the brand.


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A staple of American breakfasts everywhere, doughnuts can be loaded in trans fats. TIME explained that without trans fats, doughnuts may become more oily. But, in 2007, Dunkin' Donuts removed trans fats from their doughnuts, and those still taste good, so maybe this isn't a total loss for doughnut lovers.



Before you freak out, Oreos are safe — in terms of trans fat at least. A classic Oreo cookie has 0 grams trans fat according to the brand's website. Other cookies, not so much. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that some cookies can contain up to 3.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

While easy to lament changes in some of your favorite foods, the FDA's ban is a huge step toward making the U.S. healthier. Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told The Washington Post:

It's probably the single most important change in our food supply, if not in decades then ever. This action alone will save many thousands of lives each year.

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