Trans fat is a type of dietary fat. It increases our “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and decreases “good” cholesterol (HDL). Eating trans fats increases our risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
Most trans fats in our diet are artificial trans fats which are formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils resulting in partially hydrogenated oils. When you see “partially hydrogenated oils” on the label of a processed food, that means it contains trans fats. Trans fat are inexpensive to produce, give foods a desirable taste and texture and last long time so they are widely used by the food companies. They can be found in commercially baked foods such as muffins, cookies, pies and donuts as well as stick margarine and vegetable shortening. Many food outlets also use trans fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fat can be used many times. The Ministry of Health announced in June 2019 that partially hydrogenated oils will be banned as an ingredient in all foods sold in Singapore – imported or manufactured locally from June 2021.
While we are waiting for the ban to come into force, we should do our part to reduce the intake of trans fat in our diet. Here are some tips:
- Minimize the amount of deep-fried and commercially baked foods you eat
- Choose tub margarine or spread made with unsaturated fat (healthier fat) such as olive oil or sunflower oil
- Read the ingredients list on packaged foods and avoid those containing partially hydrogenated oil or shortening
- Choose foods with this logo: Foods with this logo contain less than 0.5 g trans fat per 100 g
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1. Health Promotion Board 2019, The skinny on the trans fats, viewed 28 Nov 2019, <https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1400/the-skinny-on-trans-fats>
2. Straits Times 2019, Singapore is banning food made with partially hydrogenated oil – here’s what trans fat really does to your body, viewed 25 Nov 2019, <https://www.businessinsider.sg/singapore-is-banning-food-made-with-partially-hydrogenated-oil-heres-what-trans-fat-really-does-to-your-body/>
3. World Health Organisation 2018, Replace trans fat – frequently asked questions, viewed 25 Nov 2019,