Test Your Trans Fat IQ!

Friday, June 11, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Valerie Watson

It seems like all anyone's talking about nowadays is trans fats. What are they? What makes them so bad for you? If you ignore them, will they go away? As far as that last question goes, probably not, but here's something you can do—test your trans fat IQ by answering "true" or "false" to the following statements.

True or False?
  1. False: In the name "trans fats," the "trans" is short for "transformational." It's short for "Trans-isomer fatty acids." You might know them better as "partially hydrogenated oils." Or "thick, gicky stuff that can clog your arteries six ways from Sunday."
  2. True: Trans fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Trans fats' relative ease of use, cheapness to produce, and long shelf life cause many companies to ignore the fact that feeding them to consumers increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, creating a pesky need for replacement consumers.
  3. False: Trans fats can be saturated fats. Trans fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, but not saturated fats. So if you're trying to reduce the trans fats in your diet, don't worry so much about the ribs, egg yolks, or butter, but make darn sure you say no to french fries, potato chips, and pie crust made with traditionally prepared shortening or other hydrogenated fats.
  4. True: Twentieth-century developments like hydrogenation and refrigeration contributed to the increased prevalence and popularity of trans fats. Before the 20th century, humans' dietary fats consisted mainly of butterfat, beef tallow, and lard—not a significant source of trans fat in the bunch. Still not the ideal diet if you were angling to be, say, a svelte 1920s flapper, but relatively speaking, not nearly as hazardous to one's health as trans fats, which we learn later in 20th century.
  5. False: Trans fats are an essential dietary fat. Unlike other fats that are necessary to the human diet, trans fats have no positive nutritional qualities, plus they increase the risk of coronary heart disease and other serious health conditions to boot. So like it or not, you have no medically sanctioned reason to keep eating that donut.