When it comes to fat, trans fat is the the most dangerous type of fat. Unlike other fats, trans fat both raises your LDL or “bad” cholesterol and lowers your HDL or “good” cholesterol. A high LDL cholesterol level in combination with a low HDL cholesterol level significantly increases your risk of heart disease. A major study on the health effects of trans fats was published in April 2006 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study contains several findings, including the following: on a per-calorie basis, trans fats appear to increase the risk of coronary heart disease more than any other nutrient, conferring a substantially increased risk even at low levels of consumption. In an analysis involving nearly 140,000 subjects: a 2 percent increase in energy intake from trans fatty acids was associated with a 23 percent increase in the incidence of coronary heart disease. It is truly dangerous even in small amounts. Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the oil less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacturing of foods helps foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel. Commercial baked goods including crackers, cookies and cakes (check all labels!) and many fried foods, such as doughnuts and french fries may contain trans fats. (Be very careful at fast food restaurants!) Shortenings and many margarines can be high in trans fat. Trans fat is what makes many margarines more dangerous than butter. Furthermore, you need to be aware of what nutritional labels really mean when it comes to trans fat. For example, if a food has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the food label can read 0 grams trans fat. Although that’s a small amount of trans fat, if you eat multiple servings of foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, you quickly ingest a significant amount. How do you know whether food contains trans fat? Look for the words “partially hydrogenated” vegetable oil. That’s another term for trans fat. It sounds counterintuitive, but “fully” or “completely” hydrogenated oil doesn’t contain trans fat. Unlike partially hydrogenated oil, the process used to make fully or completely hydrogenated oil doesn’t result in trans-fatty acids. However, if the label says just “hydrogenated” vegetable oil, it could mean the oil contains some trans fat. Finally, you also need to be aware of deceptive advertising. Many foods are advertised as “low fat” or “no cholesterol” but still contain deadly trans – fat. This includes many foods marketed as healthy for you. Make sure you read all labels!