Everyone's terrified of trans fats these days, and it's not hard to see why: They've been so vilified that some places are actually banning them.
Must be something to it, right?
There is -- because the trans fats that come from hydrogenated vegetable oils are every bit as bad as their reputation, and then some: They'll up your odds of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, depression and more.
Avoid them like the plague, and I'll tell you how in a moment (it's not as easy as it sounds).
But there's another type of trans fat -- the trans fats found in fresh meats and dairy. And the latest research confirms that not only is this stuff harmless, but you want to go out of your way to get it.
Researchers put 61 women onto a diet rich in these natural trans fats for a month -- something the health officials who are issuing blanket trans fat bans would have you believe is a recipe for disaster.
No disaster here.
In fact, according to the study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, these women had no increase in any of the traditional mainstream risk factors for heart problems -- including no changes to their levels of LDL cholesterol or triglycerides.
And for a month, they got to eat some actual fresh, natural fats -- something more of us could use these days, since natural meats and dairy are some of the healthiest foods around.
Unfortunately, most people don't get their trans fats from natural meats and dairy. They get them from fast food, snacks and even so-called "healthy" alternatives like margarine.
And spotting these food by checking the nutritional labels isn't as easy as you might think. Believe it or not food companies are allowed to round small amounts of trans fats down to zero, as if they don't exist at all.
Meanwhile, all it takes is just a few servings for that little bit to turn into too much -- a little supermarket coffee creamer and some margarine each day, for example, and you could actually exceed the recommended daily intake for these deadly fats.
The fact is you can't trust the "ZERO TRANS FATS" package blurbs or even the nutritional information tables. Go right to the ingredients label instead -- and if the product contains any partially hydrogenated vegetable oils at all, put it back.
That's a sure sign of trans fats -- and even if it was truly trans fat free, odds are it's something you shouldn't be eating anyway.
And really, let's get real here; is there anyone who actually likes the taste of margarine?