How to Spot Sneaky Fat: The Truth About Hidden Trans Fats

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Hidden Dangers

No one knows how much trans fat a typical American eats -- estimates range from 2.6 grams to 12.8 grams per day, according to the American Heart Association -- or how much constitutes a safe amount. In adjusting our diets, how low should we go? The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences recommends that levels be kept as low as possible, as does the government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The new labels help, but not completely. The FDA is now permitting any food that contains less than 0.5 gram of trans fat to carry a label that proclaims 0 grams of trans fats or "not a significant source of trans fat." (Canada, on the other hand, draws the line at 0.2 gram.) "Some people will still get a significant amount of trans fat if there is 0.3 gram in one food and 0.2 gram in another," says Dr. Jacobson, whose organization has been leading the charge against trans fats in the food supply.

And, of course, food labels help you keep tabs on the trans-fat content of foods you buy at the grocery store only. There's no way to tell how much trans fat is in the carton of fries you devour at your favorite fast-food place, in the meal you order at a restaurant, or in the cupcake you buy at the corner bakery. Restaurants and bakeries don't have nutrition-labeling requirements.

Continued on page 4:  Avoid the Sneaky Fat


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