To write this article I will have to admit to watching KUWTK -the Kardashians reality tv show.  I can’t pinpoint the fascination with these 5 sisters but on occasion I am intrigued.  A snippet from a recent episode inspired this blog. Khloe’s struggle to pronounce “hydrogenated oil” was a beacon to my ears.

It was a reminder of the importance of eliminating this nasty ingredient from our diet.  Hydrogenated oil is also known as trans fatty acids (which is easier to pronounce!).  The Nutrition Facts label on all food products lists it as Trans Fat.  The FDA isn’t banning it from the US food supply until 2018.  So we must take action.

What is Hydrogenated Oil?

Liquid vegetable oil is hardened through a process called hydrogenation. The hydrogenation of oil forms the trans fats. Trans fat prolongs shelf life by jeopardizing ours.  Our bodies cannot digest these solid fats: shortening and hard margarine.  These two ingredients are found in hundreds of baked goods.  They play havoc with our cholesterol. They clog our arteries.

Say No to Trans Fat!

Trans fat is a major contributor to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.  The Harvard School of Public Health research indicates just a minimal consumption of trans fat increases the risk of heart disease by almost 25%. This single ingredient is a significant contributor to poor health and early death.  The Mayo Clinic refers to it as double trouble because it raises your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowers your HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

Zero, Zip, None, Nada.

Beware of hidden trans fat.  You need to check both the Nutrition Facts label and list of ingredients.  If a food item contains less than 0.5 grams it will read 0% Trans Fat.  So you must also read the ingredients.  If the words hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil are listed, you are consuming trans fat.  It doesn’t matter the type of oil. If it is hydrogenated, it is not safe to eat!

Easy First Step

With a new year ahead of us I think one of the most important dietary changes you could make is removing foods from your pantry and fridge containing trans fat.  It will require reading labels and finding alternates.  Replace one product at a time.

PBJ Overhaul

Peanut Butter is probably the most common food found in cupboards. Many contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil.  Both are to be avoided.  The good news is that there are great substitutes. Healthier versions are easy to find.

Our family favorite is Smuckers Natural Creamy Peanut Butter.  Two ingredients are all you need: peanuts and salt. You will have to stir the oil on top prior to its first use.  MaraNatha sells a No Stir Peanut Butter if that is your preference.  These peanut butters will need to be refrigerated after opening.

You Are Not Giving Up Anything – Other Than A Bad Ingredient!

Once you have made the switch with your peanut butter you can start looking at other labels of your favorite brands  (hot chocolate, cookies and crackers).  Replacing your favorite food items with a healthier version is truly one of the easiest dietary changes you can make this year.