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The Trans Fat Solution
Kim Severson with Cindy Burke
Ten Speed Press, $13

Reviewed in Alternative Medicine, March 2004

Trans fat is the deadliest type of fat in the American food supply, having been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. [The National Academies of Science's Institute of Health says there is no safe level of trans fats.] You probably already know that French fries and chicken nuggets contain loads of the stuff. But you may be surprised to learn that more than 40 percent of the food in your local grocery store, including cereals, microwave popcorn, peanut butter, ice cream, crackers and cookies, contains trans fat. Manufacturers love it because it makes pretzels crispy and keeps Twinkies fresh on the shelf a lot longer.

In July 2003, the FDA ordered manufacturers to list trans fats on nutrition labels, but the rule doesn't take effect for three years. In the meantime, The Trans Fat Solution, written by Kim Severson, a food reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, can help you cut back on this unhealthy substance by telling you how to read between the lines of food labels.

Start by looking for the words "partially hydrogenated" oil or "shortening" --they're trans fats. Also, nutrition labels often list the amounts of total fat, saturated fat, and poly- and monounsaturated fat the food contains, but they often don't add up -- and here's your clue to how much trans fat is in there: the difference between the total and the sum of the other numbers.

The bulk of the book is made up of recipes, including healthy versions of many favorites that commonly contain trans fat: Flax-Tahini Waffles instead of frozen waffles, French fries cooked in peanut oil, chicken strips made with butter and parmesan cheese, and pie crust with canola oil instead of vegetable shortening. A rather slim volume for a book on fat, The Trans Fat Solution is nevertheless packed with useful tips for reducing trans fat and adopting healthy alternatives.


Lauren Ayers

James Curiel, PhD
Professor, Sociology

Don Glines
Educational Futures

Hasan Hanks

Jeanie Keltner, PhD
Editor, Because People Matter

Michael J. Kwiker, D.O.

William Mora, M.D.
Health Associates Medical Group

Susan Montoya

Cynthia Mulcaire

Carlina Nowrocki

Robert O’Brien, MA

Suiying Saechao
Member LEAF at Hiram Johnson HS

Charity Smith
President Youth Congress at Sac High