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Off Topic: What's the Most Trans Fat You've Seen?
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Cooking For Engineers



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 6:12 am    Post subject: Off Topic: What's the Most Trans Fat You've Seen? Reply with quote


Article Digest:
Last week, Cliff (the other half of the Fanpop programming duo) was retrieving his microwavable lunch from the freezer when he glanced at a bag of Ore Ida Frozen Tater Tots. He stepped out of the kitchen and asked me, "What the most trans fat you've ever seen?" I responded, "In a serving, I dunno. 1 gram?" He handed me the bag of tater tots -- 3 grams of trans fat per serving.

As of January 1, 2006, all food products manufactured for sale in the United States is required to list trans fat on the Nutrition Facts panel.
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A trans fat is a triglyceride with at least one unsaturated fatty acid that contain at least one double bond in trans configuration. This means in at least one of the three long carbon chains that help make up a fat molecule, at least one chain is kinked the wrong way. When a carbon chain contains a double bond instead of a single bond, it causes a bend in the chain. The positions of the hydrogen atoms around the bond determine how the chain bends. In cis formation, both hydrogens are on the same side and an angle is formed, while in the trans configuration, the hydrogens are on opposing sides resulting in a straight chain. In nature, almost all the unsaturated fatty acids are in cis configuration and trans fatty acids are rare. In the foods we buy, a significant portion of the fat can be trans fat because of our extensive use of partially hydrogenated oils (a way to convert liquid fats into solid fats through the forced attachment of more hydrogen atoms). (See the beginning of Kitchen Notes: Saturated Fats, Cholesterol, and Heart Disease for a brief discussion on this topic.)

Trans fats are known to be harmful to us and should be avoided if possible. If you are able to replace your diet with food that does not contain trans fat (replacing margarine and vegetable shortenings with butter and palm oil is an easy way to get started), then you should do so. If you can't, then do your best to reduce your trans fat intake without losing the valuable nutrients and vitamins that are supplied only by foods with fat.

Three grams of trans fat is definitely the most I've ever seen in any food product. So, I wanted to post a "challenge". What is the most amount per serving of trans fat you've ever seen listed on a food's nutrition information? Post your responses as comments to this article.

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by Michael Chu
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sysinfo
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 8:02 am    Post subject: Does fast food count? Reply with quote

At first glance, a large serving of McDonalds french fries tops the list at 8 grams of trans fat.

Or, for a full meal, their Deluxe Breakfast features 11g of trans fat, thanks to the hash browns, biscuit and margarine.

Oh, if only Swanson would divulge the trans fat content of their "Hungry-Man" lineup, we might have a winner!
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Mei
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 10:25 am    Post subject: Serving size Reply with quote

It would do injustice to calculate based on a single serving. What is a single serving? As sysinfo asked - would a large serving of McD count? The definition of a serving varies from one to another.

A better comparison would be by weight, say 100grams or the like.
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jimjimjim9



Joined: 18 Jul 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Who would have thought that a good ol' biscuit would weigh in ahead of fries? But here it is, from McDonalds:

Biscuit. 67 grams. 5 g transfat.

Small fries. 74 grams. 3.5 g transfat.

http://www.mcdonalds.com/app_controller.nutrition.index1.html#5


God bless Crisco. God bless David Wesson, who invented the hydrogenation process. God bless the FDA, who after years of deliberation/committees/tax dollars/lobbying pressure allowed 0.5 grams to be labeled as zero grams. Result: there are still no crackers at Walmart free of hydrogenated oils, although most of them list "0 grams trans fat".

Our bodies do not recognize trans-isomer fats for efficient breakdown. That is why they pile up on our artery walls.

Trans fats are "shelf stable", meaning they do not go rancid as fast. Thus they are worth billions to the food industry in terms of product turnover, handling/mis-handling, and transportation.

But, hey... I'm "waxing" political.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 3:21 pm    Post subject: 1.5g Reply with quote

This weekend I was forced to eat fast food for the first time in about a year. It was just a Wendy's chicken sandwich. According to the poster on the wall it had 260 calories and only 1.5g of the fat were trans in nature. Considering it was the only thing I ate that day, I don't think I'm in any danger.
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TheMatt



Joined: 09 Oct 2006
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Location: Boulder, CO

PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The largest I've ever seen is 14 grams in a KFC Chicken Pot Pie. Well, and a family-size popcorn chicken, but one person is more likely to eat a pot pie than that. Here is the KFC calculator.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
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Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hadn't even considered fast food or eating out while writing this "challenge". (Mainly because it wasn't so easy to get nutrition information in the past.) Looks like all the good tasting fast food contains several times more trans fat than most of the stuff in the supermarket (where people have a tendency to shop and compare a bit more). My guess is that since it is less likely that people will be checking on the nutrition information while ordering at a fast food restaurant, they will not be reacting as quickly as the manufacturers of market foods which have to post nutrition information on their packaging. Perhaps if McDonalds and KFC had to post the nutrition information panel on their wrappers and containersthey might think about changing their fats.

Guess this is another reason to eat out less and cook at home more.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 7:05 pm    Post subject: McDonald's DOES Reply with quote

>>Perhaps if McDonalds and KFC had to post the nutrition information panel on their wrappers and containersthey might think about changing their fats.

I only eat at McD's very seldomly, but the last time I did so, the nutrition information was plainly labelled on my double-quarter-pounder with cheese and on the large fries. There was nothing written on the diet Coke cup, though.

Honestly, I'm not being ironic, but as long as I sometimes *have* to eat at McD's, I make sure it's worth it.
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jimjimjim9



Joined: 18 Jul 2005
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's an interesting graph that could have some bearing on the reading of grocery and fast food labels.

It shows a correlation between obese people and their educational level. Data is split between males and females.

Note that the correlation is smaller among men. Perhaps that sexist myth is true: Men won't stop for directions at gas stations, or grocery stores either. Smile

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/3and4/3_fig3.gif
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Michael's dead on about the reason for the disparity in trans fat content between fast food and food from grocery stores. I noticed recently that fast food tends to have a lot more sodium too. A typical chicken sandwich will have 900-1500+ mg of sodium. Most doctors recommend eating < 1500 mg sodium for optimum health, or 2500 mg as a more practical upper limit.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to work for McDonald's. I'm even a graduate of Hamburger U (no kidding).

Back in the day, the fries were cooked in beef tallow (lard from cows). Very high in saturated fats, which make for delicious crispyness, and it has tons of beefy flavor which made the fries taste differently from the competition. In the early 90's, they changed to a solid vegetable fat for frying, which reduced saturated fat. In favor of trans fats, which didn't need to be labeled at the time, so it appeared more healthful. Also, I don't believe anyone knew trans fats were as bad as they seem to be. More recently, mid 90's if I remember right, they switched to a semi-liquid fat, presumably containing less trans fat. Interestingly, this oil's lifespan was noticably shorter.

Since switching away from beef tallow, they have included beef flavoring in the fries and some other fried foods to retain the beefy flavor people wanted. While "fried in 100% vegetable oil" is technically true, the beef flavoring is not vegetarian friendly.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 6:40 am    Post subject: NY and trans fats Reply with quote

hmm... i just did an article for www.growersandgrocers.net on NY banning trans fats in restaurants. check it out, it should be published online by noon EST on Tuesday.

kayenne
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post, and great idea doing a survey on trans fat.

But I have to ask:

Quote:
If you can't, then do your best to reduce your trans fat intake without losing the valuable nutrients and vitamins that are supplied only by foods with fat.


Uh? what vitamins, pray tell, are only supplied by what food with fat?
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:38 am    Post subject: re: Vitamins in food with fat Reply with quote

If I remembered from high school science correctly, certain vitamins are fat soluble and certain ones are water soluble such as vit C. That's also why nutrition ppl say don't overboil your vegetables coz certain vitamins can leak out
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

More useful to me would be a survey of what "fatty" foods contain the smallest amount of trans fat.
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