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FDA bans use of trans fats in foods

Published: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 4:15 p.m. CDT

Shaw Media recently posted an article about the FDA Banning the use of Trans Fats in foods.

Many of us have heard of trans fats and know that they are bad for us, but don’t necessarily understand what they are or what they do. To put it simply, trans fats are created by turning unsaturated fats (healthier fats) into artificial saturated fats (less healthy fats). They are used as a cheap fat in food products and help to increase taste and shelf life of packaged goodies.  

From a health perspective, they can both increase bad LDL-cholesterol and lower good HDL-cholesterol levels, having an extra negative effect on risk for heart disease and associated health problems.

Current food labeling requirements do not require products to list trans fats on the food label if their presence is less than 0.5g per serving, despite health recommendations that suggest limiting total daily trans fat intake to less than 2g per day.  

If you consume foods containing partially- or fully-hydrogenated oils in any regularity, you could easily be exceeding these recommendations. Common foods containing these oils are packaged chips, cookies, salad dressings, microwave popcorns, pastries, and other foods using shortening in the ingredients.  

As the article above suggests, many food companies have already begun to replace these fats in their food products because of their potential for negative health effects. While I absolutely agree with the ban on the use of trans fats, we will need to think about what has and will continue to replace these trans fats in the junk foods we eat. The most likely substitute will be other forms of saturated fats, which isn’t much better.  

Make sure to watch food products for increases in saturated fats and try to choose foods with 2g of saturated fat or less per serving. Total saturated fat intake per day should be limited to 10-20 g/day depending on medical history and body size. To limit both trans fats and saturated fats, choose fresh foods including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products instead of packaged food products as much as possible.

Check out more info on trans fats from the American Heart Association.

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