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Trans fat is an artificial food. Most of it is made in factories. Trans fat occurs in nature only very rarely. When oils are heated or when they are "hydrogenated", trans fats are made. Hydrogenation is the process of bubbling hydrogen gas through the oil to change its consistency. The bubbling raises the melting point of the oil. As the hydrogen passes through, the oil begins to become solid. By stopping the hydrogenation part of the way through, manufacturers obtain "partially hydrogenated oil". This is similar to butter, but much cheaper to produce. It is sold as "margarine", "oleo" or "vegetable shortening". The process allows cheaply adding a butter-like consistency to food products.
Trans fat is bad for human health and has been tied to a number of problems including: coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, liver dysfunction, and infertility. There has yet to be a study which shows that trans fat is good for human health in any way.
For now, the US government's "Food and Drug Administration" has allowed makers of food products to label their products as having "0 grams of trans fat per serving" as long as the amount of trans fat in the food product falls below 0.5 grams per serving. Since partially hydrogenated oils are the major source of trans fat, reading the "ingredients" label is the safest way to ensure that a food does not contain any trans fat at all. Fried foods will likely, but not necessarily, contain trans fat since fried foods are produced by using very hot oil.
Healthy oils are always liquid at the temperature of blood. Saturated and trans fats are not.
Since scientists and nutritionists now know the health issues related to eating trans fats, trans fats are being used less but there are still some in commercial food products.
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