Trans fat is found in most processed foods containing partially hydrogenated oil, such as crackers, cookies, cakes, pies and snack foods. Stick margarine, shortening, coffee creamer, fast food, frozen pizza and refrigerated dough products also often contain trans fat. Small amounts of trans fats are found in meat and dairy products.
Consulting the Nutrition Facts Label is the best way to determine if a food contains trans fat. As of 2014, a nutrition label can state zero grams of trans fat if the product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. For this reason, checking the food's ingredient list for items, such as shortening or partially hydrogenated oils or fats, is recommended in addition to reading the nutrition label.
Some trans fat is formed naturally in the digestive tract of grazing animals, such as cows, and is not a health concern. Most trans fat is formed during food processing when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to solidify it and improve its shelf life, stability, texture and flavor. Consuming a diet high in this type of trans fat is associated with elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which can exponentially increase the risk of developing heart disease.