From every scope of the internet, you’ll hear that trans fats are the enemy. They will make you fat and effectively stall your weight loss attempts. You’ve been warned from countless reputable sources and nutritionists to stay way from trans fat. But question: are they really that bad for you?

Yes.

Yes, oh yes. And on so many levels.

What are trans fats?

Trans fatty acids are used to transform liquids into solids using hydrogen. Manufacturers use these types of fats because they’re pretty inexpensive, and the oil can be used over and over again.

People don’t realize that there is also a natural version of trans fats. These kinds are found manly in animals, but it’s a negligible amount.

Trans fats haven’t been banned by the FDA, but we know that we won’t buy anything that contains trans fat. Unfortunately, manufacturers have gotten smarter and use other names for trans fat. But we are even smarter!

Normally, if the ingredient last has a “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” type of oil in it, it’s most likely trans fat hiding in disguise.

Why are trans fats bad for you?

For one, they clog your arteries. Clogged arteries leads to high blood pressure, and high blood pressure leads to a surfeit of lethal yet preventable diseases/conditions including stroke, heart attack, and eventually death.

Trans fat clogs your arteries by increasing the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol . And to make matters worse, the good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) is lowered by trans fat. This type of cholesterol is responsible for cleaning up the junk and the hard deposits that LDL cholesterol creates.

Secondly, trans fats gives you a gut.

There was a study by the Wake Forest Medical Center that analyzed two types of diets: one with and one without abundant trans fats. The participants of each diet were restricted to the same amount of calories, but at the end of the study, the participants who ate from the trans fat diet had about 30 percent more fat in the abdomen region.

So not only did trans fat cause the participants to gain weight, but it made them gain weight specifically in the area everyone wants to lose—their bellies.

And in another study, trans fat was also linked to insulin sensitivity, a cause of type 2 diabetes.

The participants in this study were monkeys, which are far more similar to humans than rats.

Where are trans fat located?

Um. In almost everything.

Crackers, cookies, fried foods, packaged foods, baked goods, cereals, frozen dinners, peanut butter—nearly EVERYTHING has trans fat in it. However, it’s not (that) difficult to reduce your intake of trans fats in your diet. Brands like Jif and Skippy offer natural alternatives to their peanut butters, free of trans fats.

Yes, most packaged foods contain trans fats, but packaged foods often are full of empty calories anyways. Skipping out on the baked crackers would be like killing two birds with one stone.

So there you have it. (Artificial) trans fats are not your friends. Multiple studies have uncovered the harmful effects of consuming trans fats, especially in great amounts. But now that you know where to find trans fats, you know exactly how you can avoid them.