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Good Fat : Trans-Fat-Free Foods


Trans-Fat-Free Foods

This list includes a number of snack foods and other "junk" foods that I don't especially recommend - on the other hand, I know that kids want treats that are in effect convenience foods, and parents want to supply them. At least there are no trans fats here, but watch out for high-fructose corn syrup (bad sugar that increases triglycerides and encourages weight gain) and additives of all kinds. Everything on this list should be available in supermarkets, with some regional variations.

If you get completely stuck and your kids are eating foods with trans fats, remember that the only protection against trans fat is saturated fat - so be sure they have some cheese or some salami or a hard-boiled egg along with the not-so-good snack.

This is an evolving list - if you find exemplary products in the supermarket, please let me know and I'll add them to the list. Candidates must have no partially hydrogenated or fractionated oils, no canola and no soy oil. Virtually all other vegetable oil (except olive oil) is also partially hydrogenated (even if it doesn't say so on the label) but lard is fine, as is coconut oil (but not if it's hydrogenated).

To supplement cheese, fruit, nuts, yogurt and various other wholesome snacks, you can consider the following:

  • granola bars, energy bars and cereal bars - hopeless; I haven't found any that meet the criteria on supermarket shelves.

  • Potato Chips - Oddly enough, these turn out to be a pretty good choice as long as they're fried in a good fat. They also tend to be hand-cut and hand-cooked, so they're skinnier (more bang for your carb buck) and crisper.

    Some candidates:

    - Tim's Cascade Potato Chips, in the Northwest (fried in peanut oil)

    - Grandma Utz's Handcooked Potato Chips

    - Herr's Old-Fashioned Hand-Cooked Potato Chips (fried in lard) 800-523-5030

    - New Orleans "Dirty" Potato Chips (fried in peanut oil). These are widely distributed and can be mail-ordered from 800-347-8972. The flavored chips tend to have a lot of junk in them.

    - Terra Chips. Only the Red Bliss Terras, not the Blues or - surprise - the olive oil chips (which contain canola).

  • Pretzels - Most (like RoldGold) are okay, but not Utz or Quinlan's or Snyder's.

  • Crackers - A very tough category; virtually all crackers have trans fats, including saltines, goldfish and wheat thins. Except for hefty whole grain ones like:

    - Ryvita Sesame

    - Wasa

    - AkMak

    - Finn Crisp

    - Lavasch

    - Fortt's Bath Oliver Crackers - these delicate traditional English crackers are perfect for cheese (made with butter oil and beef fat!) They're already in some supermarkets and they're distributed by Carr's (all their other crackers and cookies have trans, though), so if you have Carr's products in your store, ask the manager to stock Bath Olivers, which come in a white paper cylinder.

  • Popcorn - You have to pop it yourself and use real butter; no microwave popcorn, even Newman's Own and other natural organic popcorns; they're all loaded with trans.

  • Hot Chocolate - Ovaltine (which isn't really hot chocolate) and Ghirardelli and Swiss Miss fat-free are okay, as is Hershey's chocolate syrup - but forget all other brands. Hershey's Fat-Free Chocolate Milk is okay too, and has no high-fructose corn syrup.

  • Pudding - Jello Instant is okay, but not prepared Pudding Snacks

  • Candy - Trans fats turn up in candy bars and even gummy candies, but not in Hershey's kisses and almond kisses. Peppermint Bites are okay, but not Almond Joy Bites or other varieties. Chocolate bars are a better choice, especially dark chocolate. M&Ms are okay, as are Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (though not the sugar-free kind).

  • Cookies - Homemade is best; your own Toll House cookies made with butter will be fine, but the prepared cookie dough has trans. Walker's shortbread (imported from England) and other cookies have no trans; Destrooper almond thin cookies from Holland have none, and most Bahlsen cookies - like Afrika, their terrific dark chocolate crisps - don't either. Lu cookies from Europe are generally okay, but check labels. Pepperidge Farm does have trans. Stella d'Oro almond toast has no trans, but all their other cookies do. The following have trans fats: zweibach (!), animal crackers, fig newtons, sandwich cookies, Teddy Grahams and other graham crackers.

  • Ice Cream Bars - Dove bars are fine, as are Haagen Dazs and Eskimo Pies, but skip the Nestle Crunch Bars.

  • Pork Rinds - If you're not a low-carber, you may not know how tasty these are. Most of the fat has been removed and they're basically a high protein snack with no trans. Some kids love them, some hate them. If you're ever at the annaul Jazzfest in New Orleans, try the pork rinds they're cooking in giant kettles - these are amazingly delicious.


Another tough category. Except for oatmeal, those without trans generally have lots of additives and sugar. But these are okay (skip the Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Wheaties):

  • Special K

  • Grapenuts

  • oatmeal, including Quaker Instant

  • Shredded Wheat

  • Puffed Rice and Wheat

  • Raisin Bran Total


Waffles and Pancake Mix
I can't find a single product in this category with no trans - again, best to make your own.


Peanut Butter
If it has oil floating on top, it's fine. That would include Arrowhead Mills, Teddie, Smucker's, Maple Grove Farms (but not Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan or Reese's)


Oddly enough, everything from English muffins to pita bread to refrigerated biscuit dough to white bread has trans fat - probably just because it's cheap. Alvarado Street Bakery is a widely distributed label made with sprouted grains, all organic, with some lower-carb breads, and no trans. On the east coast, look for the especially delicious Chabaso Bakery breads from New Haven ( Ecce Panis Breads also have no trans, as do most artisan breads. Two cornbread mixes have no trans: Hodgson Mills cornbread and muffin mix and Jiffy corn muffin mix (made with lard!)


Baby Foods
It's especially important to choose baby foods and formulas with no trans. Gerber Lil' Entrees have no trans, but Biter Biscuits do. Also watch out for mixed grain cereal and Finger Foods Wagon Wheels, which have canola oil - not only does it have trans, but canola also retards growth. Enfamil and Prosobee have trans. Nestle Good Start is slightly better, but still has soy oil, as does Enfamil LactoFree. Ask your pediatrician for a recommendation - there may be better choices not available at the supermarket. Flintstones Bone Building Calcium Chews have trans, unfortunately, so avoid them.


Salad Dressings and Oils
I have yet to find a bottled salad dressing with no trans, and that includes mayonnaise. Soon we'll have coconut mayonnaise, which should solve the problem (if it tastes good) but in the meantime you need to make your own (recipes in The Good Fat Cookbook.)

Some good oils:

  • extra virgin olive oil - especially estate bottled ones

  • Pam olive oil cooking spray - I don't actually like this product, but it doesn't contain any trans

  • Planter's peanut oil

  • Hollywood peanut oil

  • Loriva oils - especially the roasted peanut and sesame oils

Note: it's a good idea to take oils out of their plastic bottles when you get them home from the store and put them in glass bottles, especially dark glass bottles. Plastics can leach nasty chemicals into oils.

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