Everything in moderation, right? Not quite.  

Fat in food has a negative connotation attached to it because people think that eating fat will make you fat, but in fact, fats, just like protein or carbohydrates, are essential to your diet and your body needs them to function properly. You do have to watch your intake, though. Fat is also very calorie dense, and too much fat can have detrimental effects on your body and your health.

Fats are classified into two kinds: Unsaturated, or “good” fats and saturated, or “bad” fats. You can tell the two apart because unsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature, like olive oil, and saturated fats tend to be solid, like butter or animal fat. Saturated fats in excess can clog arteries and raise blood pressure and cholesterol and should be kept to a minimum, but even saturated fats have room in your daily diet.

There is a third type of fat as well, that is in a league all of its own. You may have heard of it, you may not, but you will be on the look out for it from now on.

We can blame our own drive to come up with ways to make manufacturing food cheaper for the discovery of the worst thing you can possibly ingest: trans fat. What started as a well-intentioned attempt to manipulate nature to make healthy fats solid at room temperature to replace saturated fats in shelf stable foods by adding hydrogen accidentally resulted in creating something more dangerous than what it was meant to replace. They quickly discovered their mistake, but because trans fat are tasty and cheap, manufacturers continue to pump it into prepared foods like crackers, chips, cookies, breads and boxed meals.

While there is room for everything in your diet in moderation, trans fat is the one exception. Experts urge you to keep your trans fat consumption as low as you can possibly manage. Yet, most people eat it on a daily basis without even knowing.There is no safe level of trans fat for consumption. Trans fat is the only nutrient there is NO room for in your diet.

Trans fats are so terrible because they pack a double negative punch to your health and offer no benefits. Trans fats both increase your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower the good (HDL), a dangerous combo that negatively effects everyone, apparently healthy or not, every time you eat it. Trans fats are such a public health risk, especially during this obesity epidemic, that California and New York has banned them from foods completely.

Trans fats are listed on the nutrition label, but here’s the real kicker: the government does not require food manufacturers to list trans fat on the nutrition label if it contains under 1% per serving. That doesn’t mean the food you are about to enjoy is trans fat free, however. If “partially hydrogenated oils” turns up in the ingredient list, there are trans fats in your food- just not enough that the government feels the need to tell you about it. Learn to read your labels, or even better and easier yet, stay away from processed foods completely. The only way to truly know where your food came from, and that the food manufacturing industry hasn’t stuck their germy, unhealthy thumb in it, is to get your food as close to its natural state as possible.