Food & Fitness

Protect You Heart: Don’t Eat Trans Fats!

The American Heart Association and fitlosophy, inc. have declared today as Blog Your Heart Out Day to raise awareness about heart disease as the number one killer for women in North America. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, FatFighterTV!

Heart disease isn’t something that I personally (or anyone very close to me) have dealt with- and I hope to keep it that way. As some of you may know, I am on a crusade against trans fats. These dangerous fats are man-made and are also known as hydrogenated oil and partially hydrogenated oil. Food manufacturers are allowed to say that their food contains “Zero trans fats!” if the amount is very small (less than 0.5 grams per serving), but if you read the ingredient list, you’ll see it written as “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil”.

So what’s so bad about trans fats? Why does it matter if there is a minuscule amount in the food that you eat? Well, often we eat far more than a serving size, so that “minuscule amount” becomes something bigger. And the damage that even a small amount can do is terrifying: trans fats increase LDL-cholesterol and decrease HDL-cholesterol in the body. Higher levels of LDL- cholesterol increase our risk of heart disease; HDL-cholesterol, on the other hand, protects against heart disease. Trans fats are also directly related to cancer, birth defects, and diabetes, to name just a few major health issues. According to David Brownstein, MD,

Trans fats… are actually toxic substances for our cell membranes. When our cells contain an overabundance of trans fats, the cells become leaky and distorted. This can promote vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

See, Westwood? Trans fats are toxic!

If all of this is true, why do food manufacturers continue to use trans fats in their products? They do it because it’s cheap, flavourful, extends shelf life, and adds a smooth texture to the food. You can avoid this and fight back against heart disease by eating natural, whole foods (nothing packaged!), and by choosing butter or Earth Balance instead of other kinds of margarine.

On a less serious note, you can also participate in spreading awareness about heart disease by wearing red and thinking about fighting against heart disease as you celebrate Valentine’s Day with a fun, heart-healthy menu from Tosca Reno:

For starters:
Pomegranate Fizz – 2 oz. Pomegranate juice, 1/2 to 1 oz. Triple sec or other orange liqueur, 5 oz. Chilled champagne, squeeze of fresh lemon juice, 6-8 pomegranate seeds with grated lemon rind (zest)

Heirloom Tomato Salad 2 lbs. Heirloom tomatoes, 1 cup bocconcini, 2 generous handfuls of fresh basil leaves, several sprigs of fresh chives, 1/4 best quality balsamic vinegar, 1/4 extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp seas salt, freshly gro
und pepper to taste.

Main Course:

Scallops with Vegetables and Quinoa
1 lb. Scallops; 3 Tbsp of Olive Oil; 1 cup uncooked quinoa; 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock; 6 small zucchini; 4 similarly size carrots, trimmed and peeled; 1 red bell pepper, seeded and de-veined, cut into long strips; 5 scallions, trimmed, cut lengthwise into fours; juice and zest of fresh lime, divided 2 Tbsp white sesame seeds; 2 Tbsp roasted sesame seed oil; 1/2 tsp of ground ginger; 2 Tbsp low-sodium tamari sauce.

Chocolate-Coated Frozen Bananas – 4 medium bananas; 8 bamboo skewers; 4 oz. Good-quality chocolate, 70% cocoa or darker; 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut butter; 2 Tbsp walnuts, chopped; 1 Tbsp crystallized ginger, finely chopped.

How will you be taking action to prevent heart disease?

The Living Healthy in the Real World Guide to Grocery Shopping kicks off on Monday- if you have any further requests for what topics you would like me to cover during our mini-series, let me know!


  1. Hanlie

    One of the biggest problems with this kind of fat is that it prevents the absorption of essential fatty acids, causing a lot of health problems in our bodies.

    I am amazed that most Heart Foundations still endorse margarine for hearth health, since it’s clearly not healthy.

  2. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman

    I avoid these fats. I don’t care if a highly processed food says it has zero trans fats. Like you said, it’s often a lie (or, rather, half truth). I think so many people are just flat-out confused about the whole butter v. margarine debate. We’ve heard for so long that butter is bad because of the saturated fats and that margarine is good. I think people don’t consider other options, like Earth Balance.

  3. Sagan Morrow

    Hanlie- It’s TERRIBLE that some health foundations endorse food with these kinds of ingredients, isn’t it? Makes me mad!

    Tracey- And THAT is why the marketing companies can get away with it: consumers find it very confusing and don’t know what they should do. The big corporations take advantage of this.

    Westwood- Sorry, couldn’t resist 😉 It’s all love!

    Cammy- Butter on fresh baked warm bread is heaven 😀

    Pink Panda- I wonder who ever came up with the notion to deep fry a candy bar. Or rather, first coat it in ice cream, and THEN deep fry it. Mmm high fructose corn syrup and plenty of hydrogenated oil! I dread the day when they come up with an “organic, reduced-fat!” deep fried candy bar. Because you just KNOW that someone’s going to invent it. Eek.

    Trainer James- Yeah, any time that a hamburger can sit in a cupboard for years and look the exact same as it did when it was made, you just KNOW you shouldn’t be eating those! So disgusting that that’s what happens to most fast food burgers. Ew.

    Diane- YAY for getting rid of trans fats!

  4. The Candid RD

    Ohhh trans fat, they drive me nuts! I hate that the rule is that is doesn’t have to be on labels unless it’s more than .04 grams per serving. So annoying.

    I like the Smart Balance margarines, and products in general. Trans fat free, and delicious!

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  5. Sagan Morrow

    Sophia- AGREED. You’re so right.

    Gina- I’m not a big fan of Smart Balance; I don’t like that some of their products (including some of their different kinds of margarine) have artificial flavouring and colouring. But I’m wary of pretty much any company- just because a food manufacturer has one product that’s awesome, doesn’t mean that ALL of their products are going to be healthy (by which I mean good-for-you, rather than healthier-than-other-brands) and awesome! Kashi is a good example of that, I think.

  6. bhealthier

    i missed the “blog your heart out” day!!! gasp! I wish I could change how my parents eat smart balance everything- they totally misunderstand the meaning of “add healthy plant sterols” to lower cholesterol with “add smart balance unnecessarily to everything you eat”

    sigh. ability to change what you can, accept the things you cannot change, and wisdom to know the difference.

  7. buy resveratrol

    Then we should all be eating raw and organic foods. I don’t know if our government can control this trans fat issue, why not pass a bill that would enforce manufacturers not to use it anymore since it doesn’t have a good effect on our body.

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