Trans fats are found naturally at low levels in some foods – such as those from animals, including meat and dairy products. They can also be found in foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Like saturated fats, trans fats raise the type of cholesterol in the blood that increases the risk of coronary heart disease. This is why it’s recommended that trans fats should make up no more than 2% of the energy (calories) we get from our diet. For adults, this is no more than about 5g a day.
It’s hard to calculate how much trans fat we eat in a day because, under European law, it doesn’t have to be listed on the nutritional labels of food products. But if a food contains hydrogenated vegetable oil, this must be included in the ingredients list on the label and foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil might also contain trans fats.
Most people in the UK don’t eat a lot of trans fats. On average, we eat about half the recommended maximum and food manufacturers in the UK have recently lowered the levels of hydrogenated vegetable oil they use, which means that trans fat levels have been reduced in many foods.
In the UK we eat a lot more saturated fats than trans fats. So it’s more important to focus on reducing the amount of saturated fat we eat. See the Saturated fat page for tips on how to cut down.