Thanks to Kim Severson, an award-winning food reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, we now have a clear explanation of the science of trans fats, often called partially hydrogenated oils. In her latest book, The Trans Fat Solution (Ten Speed Press, 2003), Severson tells why hydrogenated oil has become America’s choice fat (because it prolongs shelf life and makes food smoother, crispier, or softer) and what exactly is wrong with this fat (trans fat raises cholesterol, which can clog arteries and lead to stroke and heart attacks; and, unlike saturated fat, which is broken down in the body, trans fat reprograms how cells work, causing lifelong damage that can lead to diabetes, stroke, and possibly cancer).

The rest of this to-the-point book tells how to avoid trans fats and offers trans-fat-free recipes (created by Cindy Burke) of favorite foods, such as biscuits, corn muffins, french fries, fried chicken, and pie crusts—all excellent alternatives, especially considering food manufacturers won’t be required to list trans fats on their nutrition labels until 2006.