Food with hidden fats

Kuala Lumpur , 28 Dec 2016

We need a small amount of fat in our diet as a source of energy but saturated and trans fat can increase our risk of several diseases. Kasmiah Mustapha lists a few common items which we should consume in moderation


Read the ingredients of your favourite brand of non-dairy creamer. If it includes partially hydrogenated soyabean oil, it means the product is high in trans fat. It is also high in sugar as non-dairy creamers contain high fructose corn syrup. Non-dairy creamers are basically made from a synthetic combination of chemicals, oils, sugars, and milk products. One tablespoon contains 45 calories and 3g of saturated fat.


Frozen pizza, frozen dinners, frozen hash browns, French fries and chicken nuggets are high in trans fat. According to the US National Kidney Foundation, frozen food are often heavily processed which means hidden sugar and sodium. Some brands of frozen pizza can have more than 300 calories and 20g of fat, of which 5g is trans fat.


According to, whole milk gets 57 per cent of its fat calories from saturated fat and the rest from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The USDA Nutrient Database indicates that one cup of whole milk contains 8g of total fat, half of which is saturated fat. However, children under 2 years should drink whole milk rather than skim or reduced fat milk, according to the National Institutes of Health.


Made from animal fat, one teaspoon of butter contains 4g of fat, of which 2.5g is saturated fat. Butter is one of the foods that has been identified to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, a recent study found that butter does not cause heart disease and might even offer some protection against type 2 diabetes. Still, it is better to eat butter in moderation.


The combination of salt and fat is one of the reasons people cannot stop eating it. A one ounce serving of potato chips, which is deep fried, contains 150 calories, 90 of which is from fat. Studies have found that daily consumption of a single ounce of potato chips leads to an average weight gain of 0.76kg over four years. It was found that the link between potato chips and weight gain is stronger than the link with other food, including processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and unprocessed red meats.


A dairy product, cheese contains calcium, protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12, which are beneficial for health. Unfortunately, it is also high in calories — about 100 per ounce and between 6g and 9g per ounce of saturated fat. Eating too much leads to obesity and cardiovascular diseases. A small scale study by Dutch and Belgian researchers found that eating more than 53g of cheese daily increase the risk of bladder cancer.


There are arguments that peanut butter is nutritious as it has protein, vitamins and minerals. However, some brands make theirs with partially hydrogenated oils as a stabiliser to make the peanut butter creamier and to increase its shelf life. Two tablespoons of peanut butter has 190 calories and 16g of saturated fat. It also contains around 120mg sodium.


Fried chicken, especially those from fast food joints, contain trans fat as they are cooked in partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats are byproducts of hydrogenation, used to increase the shelf life of cooking oils. According to Live Science, trans fats raise levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol in the blood. A serving of chicken breast — bone and skin removed — has 0.2g of trans fat and 3.9g of saturated fat.

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