The hydrogenation process creates solid fats that are less likely to spoil than naturally occurring oils. This artificial process is done to extend shelf life for packaged foods.
More: What Are Whole Foods?
As of 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that food manufacturers list trans fat amounts on nutrition labels. Try to stay away from the packaged, processed foods containing trans fats, as these can increase the likelihood of heart disease by raising unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels.
The recent low-fat craze led people to believe that "fat-free" means "healthy". Although fats are calorie dense and can rack up a lot of calories if not enjoyed moderately, it is the excess of calories from any source, not just fats, that contributes to weight gain.
Don't be afraid of fats, but be selective. Try to minimize trans fats from packaged foods and saturated fats found in full-fat dairy and animal products. Instead, aim to integrate moderate portions of healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, fish, and nuts into your diet to maintain cardiovascular health, improve cholesterol levels, and keep hunger at bay.
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