FDA Trans Fat Labeling Guidelines
The FDA regulations allow manufacturers of any food product with less than 0.5g of trans fat to list “0g” on the nutrition label. With that much leeway, it’s hard to know exactly how much trans fat you’re eating. For example, just two tablespoon servings of a margarine containing partially hydrogenated oils, but labeled 0g trans fats, can contain up to almost 1g of trans fat. Eat a few pieces of toast at breakfast with two servings of one of these margarines, and you’re half way to your AHA recommended daily limit by the end of breakfast.
Good Fat vs. Bad Fat
All fats are not created equal.
After hearing for decades that “fat is bad,” you may think that it’s best to eat as little fat as possible. In fact, experts agree that fat is an essential part of any healthy diet, as long as the fats are the right ones and are consumed in the right proportions. “Good” fats can help reduce artery-clogging cholesterol and some good fats can even help maintain healthy skin and are vital for brain and eye development in babies. Monounsaturated fats (canola, sesame and olive oils and avocado) and polyunsaturated fats (fish oil and corn, safflower, sunflower, flax and soybean oils and seeds) are excellent choices. Of course, even “good” fats are calorie-dense, so eat them in moderation to maintain a healthy weight.
“Bad” fats, also known as saturated and trans fats, are linked to elevated cholesterol levels, so you may think you should limit or eliminate them. However, not all bad fats are all bad. Saturated fats, while they can raise bad LDL cholesterol can also raise good HDL cholesterol. Moderation is key, some saturated fat in your diet can be part of a healthy diet. Choose lean meats and low-fat dairy products instead of their full-fat counterparts to avoid eating too much. Artificial trans fats on the other hand provide no nutritional benefits and can cause the most harm. Even foods that boast 0g of trans fat can have up to 0.49g per serving. Four servings and you’re near the AHA recommended daily limit of 2g. Avoid any processed foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, and watch your intake of sweets and snacks.
We aim to use healthier blends of fats to support healthy cholesterol levels that are already within the normal range and our buttery spreads have the lowest amount of trans fat that nature allows. With so much great flavor, there’s no need to eat foods laden with unhealthy fats. Please see the nutrition information of each Smart Balance® product for fat and saturated fat content.
Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
For years, dietary fats were considered off limits. But we’ve learned that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can actually be good for you in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels that are already within the normal range. These fats also contain many important antioxidants.
Monounsaturated fat is found in olive, canola and sesame oils, avocados, nuts and products made from them, especially almonds, walnuts, pecans and peanuts. You’ll find polyunsaturated fats in corn, cottonseed, sunflower and flax oils and in the nuts and seeds that produce these oils. Soybeans and soybean oil are also excellent sources of polyunsaturates. Delicious Smart Balance® Buttery Spreads, Peanut Butters and Mayonnaise contain a good blend of mono- and polyunsaturated fats and contain 0g trans fat naturally. As always, please see the nutrition information of each product for fat and saturated fat content.
Can they be part of a healthy diet?
Saturated fats have gotten a lot of bad press in recent years because certain types of these fats can increase your total and “bad” LDL cholesterol. Although diets should remain low in saturated fat, small levels of saturated fat as part of an overall healthy diet are needed to help balance monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet and to maintain a healthy ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol.
Typically, saturated fats are found in high amounts in animal products—meat, butter, full-fat dairy—and in many fats and oils, especially coconut oil, cocoa butter and butterfat. Cocoa butter is used to make chocolate, and a high butterfat content is what makes super-premium ice creams so rich. Limiting these foods to special occasions is a good idea.
Not all sources of saturated fat are the same; in fact some sources, like the palm fruit oil found in most Smart Balance® products, when balanced with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to levels found in those Smart Balance® products, have essential acids that can help to support healthy cholesterol levels already within the normal range. Palm fruit oil contains both saturated and unsaturated fats, and in conjunction with polyunsaturated oils like soy and canola can help support healthy cholesterol levels1 when eaten as part of the Smart Balance™ Food Plan.
The body needs fats to process vital nutrients, so it’s wise to stick with healthier blends of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids, like those in Smart Balance® spreads and olive, canola and vegetable oils.
More Articles You May Find Interesting
Q: I’ve heard I should stay away from trans fat because I have high cholesterol. What foods have trans fat? And are they really that bad? A: What you’ve heard is true—trans fat really are that...
Switching from whole or two-percent milk to skim or one-percent will save you as many as 70 calories. And calorie cutting isn’t the only benefit you may get from choosing the slimmer sip: A recent...
Heart disease may be the number one worldwide killer of both men and women, but that doesn’t mean it affects us in the same way. In fact, there are some key differences in how the condition manifests...