The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends eating more monounsaturated fats than saturated or trans fats in your diet.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting trans fat consumption to 1% of your total calories per day.

Many food companies are now removing trans fat from their products.

But what exactly is trans fat? How does it effect your body?

Trans fat comes from a process called hydrogenation. This is a process that adds hydrogen to the vegetable oil in your foods. Trans fat increases the shelf life of food and was once believed to be healthy, because trans fat came primarily from plant oils. But new studies have shown that the opposite is true. Trans fats have a negative effect on your cholesterol levels.

Trans fats are found in cookies, crackers, margarines, fried foods and snack foods such as cakes and doughnuts. Saturated fats, the amount of trans fats, and total cholesterol has been required by the FDA to be listed on food labels.

Trans fats are listed on the label, making it easier to identify these foods. Unless there is at least 0.5 grams or more of trans fat in a food, the label can claim 0 grams. If you want to avoid as much trans fat as possible, you must read the ingredient list on food labels. Look for words like
hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil. Select foods that either do not contain hydrogenated oil or where a liquid oil is listed first in the ingredient list. Sources of trans fat include:

    * Processed foods like snacks (crackers and chips) and baked goods
       (muffins, cookies and cakes) with hydrogenated oil or
        partially hydrogenated oil
    * Stick margarines
    * Shortening
    * Some fast food items such as french fries

The way that trans fat affects your health is by lowering your level of HDL or high density lipoproteins. The HDL are responsible for transporting excess cholesterol back to your liver to be processed as waste. If your HDL is lower, it cannot perform this very important function.

Trans fat also raises your LDL, or low density lipoprotein levels. This LDL is responsible for excess plaque buildup in your arteries which can cause decreased blood flow to the major organs. If a piece of this plaque would happen to break free, it can form a clot in the artery and depending on the location of the clot, it can cause a heart attack or a stroke.

The following are some good tips to help you lower your trans fat intake:

* Read the labels. In January of 2006, the FDA required that all foods
must list the amount of trans fat on the nutrition label. Look for trans fat
on the label and try to find foods with very little or even no trans fat.

* Know the foods that do contain trans fat. These include your snack
foods such as cakes, cookies, doughnuts, microwave popcorn, etc. Do
some research on the Internet for a printable list of foods that contain
trans fat. Print it out and become familiar with it.

* Switch to whole and natural foods. These foods do not contain trans
fats. Eat more lean meats, fish, whole grains and fresh fruits and

* Keep from eating out as much as possible. Plan your meals a week at
a time and if possible cook them up ahead of time and put them in the
freezer. This allows you to just pop something in the oven when you get
home from work.

What kind of alternatives do you have to trans fats? Try choosing food products that contain mono saturated fats. These can be found in olive oil, peanut oil or canola oil. The mono saturated fats are a healthier option. Omega 3 fatty acids which are found in nuts, fish and other foods are a good choice also. Stay away from saturated fats because they will raise your cholesterol levels too.

More about Trans Fats here