How to reduce bad fats in your diet

Trans fats were invented in a laboratory to be a healthy alternative to artery-clogging saturated fats. But in a classic case of consumer science gone awry, trans fats are now estimated to cause 50,000 deaths a year by promoting heart disease and cancer as well as dementia and diabetes. Trans fats also hike up dangerous blood chemicals like triglycerides and lipoprotein (a), depress levels of "good guy" HDL cholesterol and even make cells more resistant to insulin — a step toward diabetes. Here are some easy ways to avoid bad fats.

How to reduce bad fats in your diet

How to reduce bad fats

  • Ban factory-made cookies, crackers and other baked goods. Instead, snack on individually wrapped dark chocolates, crunchy nuts or raisins.
  • Some experts estimate that up to 95 percent of prepared cookies and 100 percent of crackers may contain trans fats.
  • 25 grams (1 ounce) of dark chocolate provides heart-healthy antioxidants.
  • A small handful of nuts or a small box of raisins provides lots of flavour and chewing satisfaction as well as a wealth of fibre and antioxidants, and for the nuts, good fats that protect arteries.

Say “no thanks” to commercially fried foods

  • Experts at the Harvard School of Public Health warn that commercial fryers are still filled with trans fat–rich oils.
  • Get a grilled chicken sandwich instead of the crispy fried version, and have a salad in place of french fries.
  •  And even restaurants that claim their foods are trans fat–free probably aren't using good fats.

Unmask hidden trans fats

  • A product can claim "0 trans fats" and still have up to 0.5 gram per serving.
  • So if you have four cookies instead of two, you could eat 2 grams of these nasty fats without realizing it.
  • Check the ingredients list for "partially hydrogenated," "fractionated," and even "shortening."

Bake—and spread—good fats

  • Don't throw in the towel and return to butter.
  • Instead of trans fat–heavy stick margarine, look for one with no saturated or trans fats, such as brands made with yogurt or olive oil. The best provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and even a smidge of omega-3 fatty acids.

Drink coffee, not fat

  • Order a latte or cappuccino with fat-free milk and a shot of low-sugar flavour syrup. You'll get a serving of bone-building, calcium-rich milk and avoid saturated-fat sticker shock: A mocha drink, for example, can pack nearly 500 calories and 16 grams of fat, much of it saturated.

Have a fancy fruit salad deluxe instead of premium ice cream

  • Fancy ice creams can contain as much fat as a fast-food double cheeseburger.
  • Switching to an all-fruit sorbet is a better choice but will still flood your body with loads of extra sugar in most cases.
  • The best choice: Indulge in an over-the-top fruit salad.

Replace butter in recipes and sautés with good-for-you oils

  • Use canola for baking.
  • Keep an oil spritzer loaded with olive oil near the stove and spray pans before cooking — you'll get flavour but keep calories down.

Check your favourites online

  • Many food chains — from fast-food joints to upscale coffee bars to casual-dining spots — list the trans fat content of their menu items on their Web sites.
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