The Trans-Truth

September 10, 2008

The “No Trans Fats” guarantee on your favorite bag of chips might make you think you’re in for a nutritious snack. These processed lipids—found in those “partially hydrogenated oils” on the ingredient label—have gotten tons of bad press for promoting weight gain and heart disease, so manufacturers have nixed them from a lot of packaged foods. Problem is, their non-trans, flavor-enhancing replacements—like palm oil, coconut oil, and modified sugars—can be just as bad, which calls for a little computation and a look at the fine print. If a product has more than a gram of saturated fat for every 100 calories, or if high-fructose corn syrup is one of the first three ingredients, it’s probably just as unhealthy as its trans-fatty original, so try a less saturated, less sugary, just-as-tasty alternative. I go for Trader Joe’s whole grain tortilla chips (salsa fresca flavor), or for something a little sweeter, Glenny’s apple-cinnamon soy crisps.