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Cut Back On Trans Fats This Summer

Contributed by: News Canada

(NC) - As you plan your summer barbecue or family picnic at the beach, do your heart a favour and leave the trans fats at home.
Cut Back On Trans Fats This Summer

"It's difficult to wean ourselves off foods containing trans fats because we're addicted to them," says Pat Reller, Registered Dietician in the Cardiac Rehab and Secondary Prevention Program at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Canada's largest provider of adult rehab services.

But experts agree that we have to change our habits. "Trans fats are bad for the heart," says Reller. "They raise the LDL 'bad' cholesterol levels in our blood, which increases the risk of coronary heart disease." Coronary heart disease is a common cause of heart attacks.

Trans fats are made when liquid oil is hydrogenated to create a solid fat that has a longer shelf life. These fats also have a higher boiling point and can be re-used many times to deep fry foods. Commonly found in baked goods, snack foods, processed and fried foods, trans fats make foods taste crunchy and crispy.

The best way to lower your intake of trans fats is to favour fresh instead of processed and fast foods, make your own baked goods and use liquid oils when you are baking, says Reller. Choose soft instead of hard margarines.

"You need to include some fats in your diet to stay healthy," says Reller. She recommends poly and monounsaturated fats, such as sesame, sunflower and olive oil. "Look for foods like avocados, olives, nuts and seeds which contain these unsaturated fats."

Food manufacturers aren't required to list the amount of trans fats for several years. In the meantime, watch for the words "hydrogenated," "hydrogenated vegetable oil," "vegetable shortening" and "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" - and steer clear!

Mabs Watt knew she had to cut down on trans fats after experiencing heart troubles a year ago. "It was confusing at first to know exactly what I could eat, but now I've got it straight," she says. "I was motivated because I was scared. I wanted to reduce my risk of having a heart attack."

Today, Watt is 27 pounds (12 kilograms) lighter, with a lower cholesterol count. "I feel fantastic. I have a lot of energy. I can even lift up my grandson - and he's a little fire-plug!"

Avoid These Big Offenders

Reduce your intake of trans fats this summer by cutting back on these foods, unless the label indicates that they are low in trans fats. Trans fats are often (but not always) found in:

  • Pancake and muffin mix
  • Deep fried foods, such as fried seafood, onion rings and fries
  • Some bottled salad dressings and mayonnaise
  • Ice cream sundaes and hot fudge sauce
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Pies, pastries and doughnuts
  • Hard margarine and shortening

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