Girl Scouts Cookies – To Buy or Not to Buy?

Laura was in a predicament. Her co-worker was selling Girl Scout Cookies for her daughter. Not wanting to offend her coworker, Laura decided to take a look at the cookie selection to see if there was anything that she could buy. She was on a health mission this year and was very careful what she ate. She was surprised and delighted when she saw that the cookies were advertised as having “zero trans fats”. Hmmm, she thought. These cookies have gotten healthier, maybe I can buy a box or two.

Are Girl Scouts Cookies free from trans fats?
Unfortunately, the most popular cookies that they sell, Samoas, Tagalongs and Thin Mints, are not free from these artery clogging fats. Even though these cookies are advertised as being “free” from trans fats, the ingredient list lists “partially hydrogenated oils,” which are a source of trans fats.

How do they get away with this?
According to the Food and Drug Administration’s rules, if your food product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving, the FDA allows you to label your product as containing zero grams of trans fats, even though there are trans fats present in the ingredient list. That is why the Girl Scouts can label their boxes that way. Misleading? Yes. But it is a legit loophole created by the FDA. The danger of this false advertising is that you may think you avoiding unhealthy unsaturated fats, when in reality you consumed a moderate amount of these fats that are are famous for causing cardiac issues. Plus, people sometimes polish off a whole box in a sitting. Since a box has 8 servings, if each serving had only 0.4 grams of trans fats, you would still have consumed 3.2 grams of trans fats. That is not an insignificant amount.

Why are trans fats bad for you?
When it comes to fats, trans fats are the most important ones to avoid. According to the American Heart Association, trans fats not only raise your bad cholesterol (LDL), like saturated fats do, they also lower your good cholesterol (HDL), increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The bottom line:
It is important to be a mindful shopper and not to take the advertising of “zero trans fats” at face value when looking at commercially processed products, such as pizzas and baked goods, which trans fats tend to hide in. Instead, make sure to read nutrition labels and avoid anything that lists partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list. And if you can’t resist your favorite Girl Scout cookies that contain trans fats, limit your intake of them. You at least want to stay below the daily recommended intake of trans fats, which is about 2 grams for a 2000 calorie diet. A significant amount of trans fats in your diet can potentially cause adverse health conditions and while those cookies may taste good to you, they aren’t worth that.

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  1. Isabel van Sunder says:

    It is always so hard to get healthier cookies. You have to check everything out to make sure. I do that anyway since I have lots of food allergies. Thanks.

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