Nutrition labels provide a lot of information on the types of fat found in foods. However, such labels currently don't provide information on trans fats, one of the most damaging fats for arteries. That may change soon as the Food and Drug Administration moves to require that manufacturers add the grams of trans fats in their products to the Nutrition Facts label.
What are trans fats and why are they added to food?
The added hydrogen exerts a slight pull that rotates the fat chain, changing the configuration from what in chemistry is called "cis" to "trans." Thus, the name "trans fats." The process is done to improve the texture and keeping quality of oil-based fats.
Why are trans fats bad?
Trans fats also appear to boost blood triglyceride levels and impair the ability of blood vessels to dilate, both of which increase the risk for heart disease. Because of this, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences recently recommended that "trans fat consumption be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet."
Americans currently consume around 5 grams of trans fats per day. This may not sound like much, but the Institute of Medicine would like to see the level closer to zero.
Trans fats in the diet
Margarine vs. butter