Trans fat deception

Knobbe Book 2023

In a previous blog, “The 80/20 rule, or Pareto principle” I discussed the biggest dietary change which could have the biggest impact on your health — the removal of seed oils. Because seed oils and sugar are normally combined in ultra processed food, eating whole foods is a great way to remove these nutrient deficient, pro-oxidative, and pro-inflammatory toxins.

If we shift our discussion to trans fats most “experts” in the nutrition field would fully agree that such fats, especially those artificially manufactured, are extremely harmful to our health. Heart disease, cancers, and other morbidities clearly show strong associations which suggest causality. Therefore, strict religious advocates of vegan, carnivore, DASH, Mediterranean, low-carb, or high-carb diets wouldn’t argue against the harms of trans fats (1,2).

So, you think trans fats are out of our food supply — think again. Thanks to five plus decades of research warning about the strong correlation with heart disease, it took Dr. Kummerow until 2013 to convince the FDA to remove “trans fats” from the list of ingredients on the GRAS (generally regarded as safe) database. An outright ban in 2015 allowed BigFood 3 years to remove trans fats. Because numerous extensions and outright ignoring of FDA rules were still common late 2021, with no consequences, these toxic fats remain in our food. Seed oils, and processed food are the main contributors in our diet (3).

Unknown to the majority of the population the FDA allows the following statement you’ve seen on numerous nutrition information inserts — “Contains 0 grams trans fat per serving”. Check your pantry or cupboard but educate yourself about the presence of trans fats. Providing the trans fat content is < 0.5 grams/serving (0.49 grams is acceptable) and the trans fat content is < 3.6% of the total fat content the 0 grams/serving deception is allowed. Thirteen years ago, in 2010, seed oil consumption was already 80 grams/person/day in the USA. Therefore BigFood reverse engineers their ultra processed food and potentially gives you hidden 2.8 grams of trans fat/day yet the FDA considers NO AMOUNT OF TRANS FAT SAFE FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. Seed oils have also been found to contain 1-4% trans fats in several studies (3).

With profits galore and the extended shelf life trans fats extoll on processed food it’s no surprise that BigFood keeps trans fats in our food supply. Could making more money for shareholders take precedence over the health of the consumer?
  1. Mozaffarian, D., Aro, A. & Willett, W. Health effects of trans-fatty acids: experimental and observational evidence. Eur J Clin Nutr 63 (Suppl 2), S5–S21 (2009).
  2. Nicolò Merendino et al. The Effect of Trans Fatty Acids on Human Health: Regulation and Consumption Patterns. Foods 202110(10), 2452;
  3. Knobbe, C. & Alexander, S. (2023). The Ancestral Diet Revolution. How Vegetable Oils and Processed Foods Destroy Our Health – and How to Recover. (1st ed.)Ancestral Health Foundation