Starbucks drops Trans Fat – the Big Picture

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

After Wendy’s, Taco Bell and KFC, another food chain giant has joined the ban-trans-fat bandwagon! Starbucks announced on Jan. 2 that it would cut trans fat from its pastry and bakery goods in stores located in 10 cities immediately. The company said it also plans to eventually drop this undesired fat in all stores.

Is Trans fat-Free = Healthy?

It was definitely a triumph for New York City to quickly pass the trans fat ban. However, what exactly does the term “trans fat-free” mean to you?

A Trans fat-free food

  • is NOT a health food.
    • Trans fat-free french fries are still fried in oil.
  • is NOT low-fat.
    • 3 pieces of trans fat-free fried chicken breast still contain 51g of fat! In addition, a trans-fat free pastry still contains the same amount of fat and empty calories.
  • may contains MORE saturated fat, another bad fat.
    • Trans fat was invented to replace saturated fat. Many packaged cookies now boast that they contain 0 g of trans fat. However, this comes at a cost to your health. In order to minimize or eliminate the use of trans-fat laden partially hydrogenated oil, some manufacturers replace it with saturated-fat laden palm oil and palm kernel oil.
  • does NOT end the fight for better health.
  • Now that Starbucks has made an effort to drop trans fat, what are they planning to do with their 600-kcal frappuccino?

Bottom Line

For the sake of your heart, minimize the intake of both saturated fats and trans fats. Instead of putting all focus on individual ingredients, choose wholesome fresh foods instead of fast, highly processed and packaged foods. Fresh whole foods are generally richer in vitamins and antioxidants, and are lower in fat, calories, sodium, and chemicals and artificial flavorings. Spend time investigating and comparing products by checking the Nutrition Facts label. When in doubt, also check the ingredient list.


cholesterol, heart disease, heart smart, hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil, trans fat


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