"Naturally Occurring" Trans Fats?

Karen, I am curious what sources CM is using that calculates trans fat presence in whole, natural and organic foods. When I review the trans fat input in my Diary, it appears that I have exceeded the MDRA, yet I am not eating any processed or take out foods; or packaged mixes.
From all the research that I can find through the USDA, the US does not consider trans fats to be a by-product when natural oils are merely heated. Trans fatty acids, yes; trans fats, no, as the definition in the US is a hydrogenated fat. Yet the USDA does acknowledge that there is a naturally-occurring trans fat in small amounts in dairy products. Help!
Is this a matter of definition? Highly confusing.
For the US users, please also note that the USDA labeling change in 2006 does allow a manufacturer to list a product as trans-fat free, (quote)". . . ., if the total fat is less than 0.5 g per serving and no claims are made about fat, fatty acids, or cholesterol content, there are two options for declaring trans fat. The manufacturer may either list the trans fat amount as zero (0 g) on its respective line or add a footnote stating “Not a significant source of trans fat.” (end quote) See www.fns.usda.gov/fdd/_private/_audit/TransFatFactSheet.pdf I think this is rather deceptive, however, I am not on the policy board.
For grins,here's a link to an investigation of peanut butter: https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2001/no-trans-fats-in-peanut-butter-contrary-to-current-rumor/
Gotta say that (in my mind), if there are hydrogenated fats present - no matter the amount - there are trans fats present. Period. Unfortunately, a lot of the hydrogenated fat in American foods is palm oil because those palms grow quickly and which is likely produced in the cheapest way possible - slash & burn, single crop destruction of tropical areas. Eco-politics aside, it just ain't healthy, it seems. https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2009/apr/fats
Any guidance you can give on trans fats tracked in CM will be helpful.


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    Thanks for your insightful question and great job of being a nutrition detective!

    As you discovered, there are small amounts of naturally occurring trans fat in many different foods. Even unprocessed nuts, seeds, and vegetables oils will contain very small amounts. Trans fat that is not man-made is considered less harmful to our health than the hydrogenated trans fat that is used in processed foods like pastries and stick margarine.

    Guidelines suggest that we aim for 0 g of trans fat per day, which is challenging to do since we consume small amounts of naturally occurring trans fat in our day. Because labels don't report on what is natural vs. man-made trans-fat, Cronometer isn't able to show this information.

    What I do with my clients is look for where the trans-fat is coming from (by hovering my mouse over the %bar in your diary) and work on eliminating any sources that come from processed foods.

    Hope this helps!

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

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    Hi @HealthyHoney

    The trans fats reported for NCCDB foods are total trans fatty acids. In this case, there is no distinction made between industrially produced trans fats and those that are naturally occurring.

    Naturally occurring trans fats do exist in small quantities in foods of plant origin. Trans fats are also produced by the bacteria in the digestive tract of ruminant animals (cows, sheep goats, deer, buffalo, etc.). So dairy and meat products from these animals will be higher in trans fats.

    Hydrogenation of oils tend to produce a much higher proportion of trans fatty acids than you can find in meat and dairy products. For example, up to 60% of fats in hydrogenated oil could be trans fats, whereas up to 6% of fat from ruminant animal products may be trans fats. Therefore hydrogenation produces much higher amounts of trans fats. There is also evidence that the types of trans fats produced by ruminant animals have neutral or possibly beneficial effects on health, whereas the types produced by hydrogenation may have negative effects on health.


    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

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