General Info

  • Around the mid-1950s, trans fat became widely popularized as a "healthier alternative" to saturated animal fats like butter and lard. Its beginnings go back 100 years, to Procter & Gamble’s creation of Crisco in 1911.
  • Margarine is not heart-healthy at all – even if it's laced with omega-3!

Unhealthy Components

  • Trans fats: Formed during the process of hydrogenation, which turns liquid vegetable oils into a solid fat
  • Sodium nitrite (a commonly used preservative and antimicrobial agent) and other chemical flavorings and dyes
  • Free radicals: These and other toxic breakdown products are the result of high-temperature industrial processing of vegetable oils
  • Emulsifiers and preservatives: Numerous additives of questionable safety added to margarines and spreads. Most vegetable shortening is stabilized with preservatives like BHT.
  • Hexane and other solvents: Used in the extraction process and can have toxic effects

Health Risks

  • Trans fats:
    • Heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers
    • Heart disease
    • Cancer
    • Bone problems
    • Hormonal imbalance
    • Skin disease
    • Infertility
    • Difficulties in pregnancy
    • Problems with lactation
    • Low birth weight
    • Growth problems
    • Learning disabilities in children
  • A US government panel of scientists determined that man-made trans fats are unsafe at any level.
  • Free radicals: Numerous health problems, including cancer and heart disease


  • Good old-fashioned butter made from grass-fed cows, which is rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)