Do We Know What’s in our Grocery Cart?


Recently the FDA made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oil is no longer recognized as safe.  Once the preliminary determination is finalized partially hydrogenated oils cannot be used in food without prior approval.  That means they will become illegal as food additives.  This got me to thinking.  What foods contain hydrogenated oils (trans fat).  The list is long and eye opening as many food contain trans fat as an additive for flavor, creamy texture, shelf life, etc.  This list does not contain dairy, pork, lamb or beef  as the trans fat is naturally occurring. The jury is out on whether these are harmful in your diet.

Foods that contain trans fat:

Cookies, crackers, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough, and breads such as hamburger buns
Some stick margarine, vegetable shortening and processed cheese
Pre-mixed cake mixes, frosting, pancake mixes, and chocolate drink mixes
Fried foods, including donuts, French fries, chicken nuggets, and hard taco shells
Snack foods, including chips, crackers, candy, and microwave popcorn
Frozen dinners

This is a long list and yet it only contains a small amount of the foods that contain trans fat.  A another list is in the link below.  Yet again it is not a full list of products.

The FDA’s concern is that many foods contain a small amount of trans fat and when adding the total amount consumed in a day it is easy to have a much higher intake than the recommended 2 grams per 2000 calories.  The FDA estimates the average American eats about 4.7 pounds of trans fat in a year.  This equals 6 grams per day.  Three time higher than the recommended value.  There is another concern that leads to the insidious lie perpetrated at the supermarket.  Food labels can state that foods containing 0.5 grams or less of trans fat can state they contain 0 trans fat.  So if you were to eat 6 products during the day that were labeled 0 trans fat and yet each contained 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving you would have eaten more than the daily recommended amount of trans fat.

Labels as the one below state o grams trans fat and yet if you read the ingredients it contains partially hydrogenated oil.  The manufacturer can round down to 0.  This allows them to state they have no trans fat when in fact they do have trans fat.  Also portion sizes may not be realistic therefore when you eat a realistic portion you are eating large amounts of trans fat.

I am curious how much trans fat am I eating in my diet.  I eat very little meat in my diet if at all.  So I can eliminate anything on the list that would be meat related.  I also have cut back on my cheese intake but I do consume cheese most every week.  But crackers, baked goods, and pancake mixes which I eat regularly on on the short list.  So I make my way to the supermarket.

I decide to start with the vegan alternative foods.  (vegan cheese, meat substitute, milk or creamer)  I go the the dairy section and pick up a container of Tofutti cream cheese.  2 grams of trans fat per serving.  One serving of this and I would be at my limit for the day.  I heard that there is a 0 trans fat alternative but it is not offered at the supermarket in my town.  Next, Morning Star Veggie Meatballs.  0 trans fat and no hydrogenated oil in the list of ingredients.  Next, Silk Soy Milk.  0 trans fat and no hydrogenated oil.  Also the same for Silk creamer, Gardenburgers, Field Roast sausages and Tofurky dogs and tempeh.  Looks like the vegan alternative products are scoring well.  I have tried the Tofutti cream cheese but it s not a part of my regular diet.  I do like the silk products and eat Gardenburgers and Field Roast sausages once in a while and feel good about keeping them in my diet.

Now I move onto the other foods.  Frozen Pizza.  I picked up two brands one had trans fat of 1.5 grams the other had partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list.  Two others had neither trans fat or hydrogenated oil in the list.  Several packages of frozen dinner contained partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients list.  In the snack aisle it was actually scary.  SO many products contained partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list.  I only found one cracker brand that did not have the trans fat.  Mitton’s.  All the pototo chips had hydrogenated oil in them.  I didn’t even look at the cookies.  Most contain hydrogenated oils in them.  The Act I popcorn surprisingly did not contain trans fat but it contained palm oil so it was high in saturated fats.

Off to the bakery section.  No surprises here.  Most of the products contained partially hydrogenated oils.  The breads were the best bet with good grain breads scoring well and white breads not so well.

I looked at other processed foods in the store.  These contained partially hydrogenated oils.  It is not a complete list.  Potato Buds, Pancake mix, biscuit dough, cookie dough, coffee creamer, breakfast cereal, granola bars, pudding mix, cake mix, canned frosting, chocolate chips, candy, and many more.

I am not a fan of processed foods but the crackers that I eat and the cookies also the non dairy creamer.  If I were to eat two cookies, some crackers and coffee creamer I would be over the daily amount recommended.  I think about people that eat processed foods everyday and those who eat fast foods everyday that have high trans fat content.  It is scary.  I know children that eat at fast food restaurants two or three time a week.

I don;t like the FDA regulating what we eat but something has to be done about the unhealthy eating habits of Americans.  I am going to watch my intake of these products and find healthier alternatives.  No more crackers or coffee creamer.  Maybe a cookie every once in a while.  I just cannot resist those crunchy treats.

Below is an article from the mayo clinic that explains the health risks associated with a high fat diet.

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