What are Trans Fats?



Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fatty acid common in processed and fried foods that negatively impact cholesterol levels and heart health. Many countries have banned them.


  • Trans fats are produced by hydrogenating vegetable oils through heating to turn liquid oils into solid fats with longer shelf life.
  • Trans fat raises LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol increasing risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
  • Major health organizations recommend limiting daily trans fat intake to under 1% of total calories or avoiding it altogether.
  • Read nutrition labels and avoid products listing “partially hydrogenated oil” which indicates trans fats.


  • Margarines, vegetable shortening, fried fast foods, frozen pizza, microwave popcorn, cake mixes, crackers.

Related Terms

  • Saturated fat, unsaturated fat, cholesterol, lipids, hydrogenation

Common Questions

  • Why are trans fats banned? They provide no health value and show clear evidence of harming heart health unlike other fats.
  • Are they worse than saturated fats? Yes, while saturated fats aren’t healthy, trans fats seem to be worse.

Do Not Confuse With

  • Cis fats – Non-hydrogenated unsaturated fats that maintain their positive health benefits.
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