But the ingredient they're using to replace trans fats might be just as harmful.
Meet interesterified fat (IF), an industrially produced ingredient that will likely show up in more and more products now that the FDA's trans-fat deadline is looming. It's made by combining stearic acid (a naturally occurring saturated fat that's found in chocolate, among other foods).
The problem? There's very little research on the heath effects of IF, and the research that is out there is not super encouraging. In one 2007 study that included 30 human volunteers, IF was shown to raise "bad" cholesterol, lower "good" cholesterol, and even raise fasting blood sugar by 20%. And a more recent trial in rodents found that when mothers eat a food
But wait, there's more: Because manufacturers aren't required to mention interesterification in the ingredients list (just like you won't find the words "trans fat" in an ingredients list now; you have to know to look for "partially hydrogenated"), it's hard to know whether or not a
Luckily, there are ways to avoid IF, says Alexandra Caspero, RD, a Missouri-based nutritionist and author of the blog Delish Knowledge. First, she says, it's a good idea to cut back on processed
"Definitive research is definitely needed, but my gut is to avoid or limit these fats until more is known," Caspero says. And other nutrition authorities agree: We really don't have enough data on these fats to make a ruling on them just yet.
For now, it's probably better to stay on the safe side.