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How to Avoid Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Since new labeling laws went into effect in 2009, many manufacturers have eliminated partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) from their popular brands. However, the only way to make sure they are not in the foods you choose is to read the list of ingredients on every processed food you buy. The list below is a guide to choices in your supermarket. Scan through the list of ingredients and if it contains the words "partially hydrogenated", put it back on the shelf.

It's much harder when you eat out, because you have no way to tell what's going on in the kitchen. Fast food restaurants and chains use a lot of pre-prepared (read "frozen") foods that they re-heat for you. These are often still made with partially hydrogenated fats. You are safer at restaurants that prepare your food from scratch. Asian restaurants are good bets: they use oils, not margarine or shortening. Most Italian, Greek, Spanish and other Mediterranean restaurants tend to use healthful olive oil.

Foods Often Made With Partially Hydrogenated Oils
(Check the list of ingredients!)

Cake mixes, biscuit, pancake and cornbread mixes, frostings
Cakes, cookies, muffins, pies, donuts
Peanut butter (except fresh-ground)
Frozen entrees and meals
Frozen bakery products, toaster pastries, waffles, pancakes
Most prepared frozen meats and fish (such as fish sticks)
French fries
Whipped toppings
Margarines, shortening
Instant mashed potatoes
Taco shells
Cocoa mix
Microwave popcorn

Some Brands of these Foods are Still Made with Partially Hydrogenated Oils
(Check the list of ingredients!)
Breakfast cereals (see How to Pick a Breakfast Cereal)
Frozen pizza, frozen burritos, most frozen snack foods
Low-fat ice creams
Noodle soup cups
Pasta mixes
Sauce mixes

Foods that usually do not contain Partially Hydrogenated Oils
(Note: This is not a list of "good" or recommended foods – some are full of sugar or white flour. It's just a list of types of foods usually do not contain partially hydrogenated oils.)
All fruits and vegetables
Dairy products, including cheese and ice cream
Meat, poultry, fish
Sugar, flour
Spices, condiments, pickles, salad dressings and mayonnaise
Jams and jellies
Beans, grains, nuts and seeds
Plain popcorn (not microwave)
Pretzels, rice crackers
Candies and chocolate
Cooking oils
Most soups and instant soups (except noodle soup cups)
Coffee, tea, soft drinks, juices
Frozen fruits & vegetables
Canned fruits & vegetables

My detailed explanation of why you should avoid Trans Fats

Checked 8/9/10

May 10th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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