What you eat defines you or at least your health! This week I will share hidden trans fats in our foods. Despite deemed no longer safe to consume, it still is very much present in our food supply. Read how again we are faked out when it comes to trans fat and ‘decaf’.

Hidden trans fats

Back in the day, the food industry said trans fat was a healthy alternative to butter and lard. The FDA declared them no longer safe to consume, which greatly reduced their use. But the partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs)—found in foods like margarine, coffee creamer, chips, and more—are loaded in dangerous trans fatty acids. Medically they raise LDL (bad cholesterol), lower HDL (healthy cholesterol) levels, so therefore we are left with an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Sadly in the US, they’re not gone from the food supply. FDA spokesperson Dani Schor explained in an interview with MDLinx that some PHOs are approved as food additives, and food manufacturers may still obtain approval for certain uses of PHOs in foods. On top of that foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving are listed on the nutrition label as “trans fat, 0 grams.”

Furthermore, all liquid vegetable oils that have been “deodorized” during the refining process—to give them their bland taste that consumers want—contain some trans fat, according to a blogpost by Guy Crosby, Ph.D., a food chemistry researcher and adjunct associate professor of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan’s School of Public Health. Another fake out these trans fats is not included in the product’s labeling. These oils include the four most popular ones consumed in the United States—soybean, corn, canola, and palm.

Eating foods with even small amounts of trans fat regularly can add up to a dangerous amount with time. So what to do? 

Don’t be faked out choose oils, select extra virgin, first cold-pressed oils from reputable, high-quality sources. Scan ingredient lists for the words “shortening,” or “hydrogenated” oils. If you are eating out avoid deep-fried foods.

Need to pay special attention to the ingredients lists and labels for PHOs when it comes to: 

  • Shortening/margarine
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Packaged snacks like chips
  • Baked goods or doughnuts
  • Ready-to-use dough or frozen pizza
  • Fried foods, including french fries and chicken
  • Coffee creamer

There are some ‘good fats’ take time when you can to check out this article.

The lie of ‘decaf’

Believe me when I say the food industry is not required to clearly list the amount of caffeine per serving on the nutrition label. Yes, the most used drug in the world is not ‘controlled’. And you are correct coffee is the most common way it gets into our bodies. The debate of is caffeine good or bad for your health has been going on for decades. Read my blog on bladder cancer and caffeine. Forgetting about the add ons, sugar, cream mocha – by the numbers Mayo Clinic says, up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is safe for most adults—that’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four 8 oz cups of brewed coffee or about 8 cups of black tea. My rough estimate is about 100 mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee and 50 mg per cup of black tea.

Caffeine is contraindicated for patients taking certain medications, have certain heart irregularities to the rhythm. Also, the National Institute of Health ( NIH) advising pregnant women to limit or skip even moderate caffeine consumption. Yes, this comes out of a recent study published in JAMA which found that consuming even small amounts of caffeine—equivalent to half a cup of coffee per day—was associated with lower birth weight. And as you know the present-day rage is adding caffeine to many popular foods and soft drinks. Many thankfully list the amount of caffeine. Red Bull seems early on (1987, Austria) to jump-start one’s energy with 111 mg of caffeine per can (12 oz.). Check out a past blog on the cardiac effects of caffeinated drinks. The most caffeinated drink on the market is ‘Spike‘ coming in at 350 mg caffeine in a 16 oz can. For more on the top ten caffeine drinks check out this article. Don't Be Faked Out By Food Labeling Tricks Part II

“Decaf” doesn’t mean caffeine-free and cups can quickly add up. The Starbuck website lists the caffeine content of its decaf coffee at 25 mg per 16 oz cup. Espresso drinks, even if a  decaf “shot” can contain up to 16 mg of caffeine, according to a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology. Most espresso drinks use at least 2 shots, meaning a decaf espresso drink can have as much caffeine as a can of regular Coca-Cola (34 mg for a 12-ounce can). And don’t think the Mocha syrup, does not add more caffeine – it does!

The best way to avoid caffeine? Choose iced or hot herbal tea.