published Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Ask a dietitian

Q: Can I be sure that a food does not have any trans fats if the label states "zero trans fat"?

A: Under FDA guidelines, foods labeled "zero trans fat" can still have up to 0.49 grams of trans fat per serving. Depending on the serving size specified, you may be taking in more trans fat than you thought in one meal. The American Heart Association recommends limiting trans fat intake to a maximum of 2 grams per day. The less trans fat consumed, the better. To be sure that the food does not contain any trans fat, you will want to look at the ingredient list on the food label. If the list includes any oil that is partially hydrogenated, then the food contains trans fat. You also will want to remember that just because a food has no trans fat, it is not necessarily "healthy." Trans fat was invented to replace the role of saturated fats in cooking and baking. If you notice that a certain food that used to have trans fat no longer has trans fat, then you want to make sure that the saturated fat was not added back. Watch out for plant-based saturated fats, such as palm or coconut oil, and avoid them as well.

-- Jenny Madzin, registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionist, Focus Healthcare of Tennessee

Readers: To submit a question for a professional dietitian, e-mail it to Anne Braly at

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