Trans Fat Update

Fat is an essential nutrient for the body, but keeping intake of dietary fat (especially saturated and trans fats) and cholesterol within recommended levels is a key part of healthful eating and can help reduce risk for some serious health problems, such as coronary heart disease.

Not All Fat is Created Equal:

  • Some types of fat, such as saturated and trans fats, are considered to be less healthful and intake of these should be kept low. Too much saturated fat and/or trans fat can result in elevated blood cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Other kinds of fat are considered "better-for-you" and are found mostly in plant foods (unsaturated fat) and fish (omega-3 fatty acids). Unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) do not raise blood cholesterol levels.
  • Remember that any type of fat can supply excess calories and weight gain, which is why we're advised to keep total fat intake moderate.

Trans Fats: The Low Down

  • Trans fats give a desirable taste and texture to food and provide stability at high temperatures and improved shelf life.
  • Trans fats are unsaturated fatty acids that are formed when vegetable oils are processed (partially hydrogenated) to make shortenings, margarines and oils for use in baking, frying or cooking.
  • Trans fat also occurs naturally in small amounts in many foods (e.g., beef, veal, lamb and foods containing milk fat, such as butter, whole milk, cream, cheese and ice cream).

Trans Fat and You:

  • Trans fats, similar to saturated fats, raise blood cholesterol levels more than unsaturated fats.
  • While dietary guidance for trans intake is evolving, a recent recommendation is to keep trans fat intake as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet. It is recognized that trans fats are currently unavoidable in ordinary diets and that trying to avoid these fats could lead to changes in dietary patterns that might not be beneficial to health.

Trans Fat and Kraft:

  • Kraft is committed to developing alternative ingredients with the same taste, texture and freshness characteristics found in trans fats but with better nutrition. This has been a challenge throughout the food industry, but currently many products are being reformulated and new items with "0g trans fat" are being delivered to the marketplace to meet this increasingly important need.
  • NOTE: In the U.S., products may be labeled "trans free" if they contain less than 0.5 g of trans fat per serving. In Canada, products must contain less than 0.2 g of trans fat per serving, as well as meeting other detailed requirements for saturated fat content.
  • Kraft is working to reduce or eliminate trans fat across product lines.

How Much Fat is Enough?

  • The amount of fat (in grams) that an individual should eat is based on the number of calories he or she needs to meet energy requirements.
  • Experts advise us to choose a diet moderate in fat (no more than 30% of total calories) and low in saturated fat (less than 10% of total calories), low in trans fat (as low as possible while eating a healthful diet), and low in cholesterol (less than 300 mg daily). This recommendation for dietary fat is intended for healthy adults and children 5 years of age and older, as a basis for forming lifelong nutritious eating patterns. (Note: The dietary fat guideline does not apply to infants and toddlers below the age of 2 years. After that age, children should gradually adopt a diet that, by about 5 years of age, contains no more than 30% of calories from fat. [Source: Nutrition Recommendations for Canadians, 2000]
  • Individual foods, some with higher levels of fat and others with lower levels of fat, can be combined in a diet that meets the guideline of no more than 30% of calories from fat. In the same way, individual foods, some with higher levels of saturated fat and others with lower levels of saturated fat, can be combined in a diet that meets the guideline of less than 10% of calories from saturated fat.
  • Because fat is an essential nutrient needed for good health (fat also helps transport fat soluble vitamins), Canadians are advised to reduce, not eliminate, fat in their diets. Diets extremely low in fat can be hard to follow and can come up short on some important micronutrients.
  • Choosing "low fat," "reduced fat" or "fat free" foods in place of regular versions of foods is one way to reduce total fat and often saturated fat in the diet. As always, calories count, too, so check the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels for calories and other nutrition information on fat-modified food choices.