What is trans fat?
Trans fat is a type of unsaturated fat that behaves like a saturated fat because of its chemical structure. It increases our risk of heart disease by increasing the “bad” LDL cholesterol, while also lowering the “good” HDL cholesterol in our blood.
Naturally occurring trans fats are found in small amounts in dairy products, beef, veal, lamb and mutton.
Artificial, synthetic, industrial or manufactured trans fats are caused by the way some fats and oils are processed. They are found in foods that use hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable fats, such as deep-fried and baked foods.
How can I avoid trans fat?
The best way to avoid trans fat is to follow our healthy eating messages and look for foods carrying the Heart Foundation Tick
1. Choose polyunsaturated and monounsaturated spreads and margarines
2. Choose lean meat trimmed of all visible fat
3. Choose reduced, low or no fat dairy foods
4. Try to limit the amount of fast foods and take-away meals including deep-fried and baked foods including store bought biscuits, pastries, pies and cakes that you eat.
Avoid foods that show ”hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils” in the ingredients list. However, the law doesn’t currently enforce companies to list these fats on labels. The Heart Foundation is lobbying government for mandatory labelling of trans fat but in the meantime, look for foods with the Heart Foundation Tick.
To earn the Heart Foundation Tick, vegetable oils and margarines must contain no more than 1% trans fat as part of their total fat. Other products must be virtually free (trace levels only) of trans fat to qualify for the Tick. “Virtually free” allows for trans fats that occur naturally in foods.
Find out more about the Heart Foundation Tick.
Healthy heart tip
Get baking! If you make your own biscuits and cakes you can use a polyunsaturated margarine or vegetable oil, or fruit purée, so you'll know what you're eating is virtually free of trans fats.
Trans fats – information sheet (2009)