To create a substitute for butter, food manufacturers put vegetable oils through a process called hydrogenation. The addition of hydrogen makes the product firm and resistant to spoilage. However, while hydrogenated or trans fats spread like butter, they also share some of the unwanted properties of saturated fats. They appear to interfere with removing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from the blood and also lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol. As a result, these foods may contribute to heart disease and certain cancers.
To lower your children’s consumption of saturated fats, avoid trans fats and use liquid oils and soft tub margarines instead. Since 2006, the Food and Drug Administration has required food manufacturers to list the amount of trans fats in the Nutrition Facts section of food labels, so always check labels for trans fat content. In some cities, local ordinances have been passed to eliminate trans fats in restaurant foods.