The Basics

Trans fat is formed artificially through a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation turns liquid oils into solid fats such as a stick of margarine by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil.

This process increases a food’s shelf life and improves flavor stability, but it also changes safer "unsaturated" fats into dangerous trans fats. These types of fats can lower your good cholesterol, increasing your risk of coronary heart disease.

Trans fats are found in most of your everyday foods: spreads, solid shortening, cookies, crackers, chips, doughnuts, breads, frozen foods, fried chicken and french-fries.

There are also small amounts of trans fats found naturally in meat and dairy products, but these natural occurrences do not have negative effects on your health.

While trans fats have been shown to be significantly harmful to your health, the Food and Drug Administration says consumers must also be cautious of their intake of saturated fats.

Read the Label

Companies are now required to list the trans fat content separately on the Nutrition Facts label of all packaged foods. You can find the trans fat content listed under saturated fat.

If a product contains 0.5 or less grams of trans fat, the company can claim the product has 0% trans fat.