Trans Fats: What the News Means

by in Food News, November 8, 2013

doughnut
Everyone is talking about the FDA’s call for the complete removal of artificial trans fats from the food supply. What does this mean for the future of your diet?

Trans Fats Refresher Course
Most folks know trans fats aren’t good for them but many don’t know what they are, why they’re bad or what foods contain them.

Partially hydrogenated oils are vegetable oils that have been manipulated to be solid at room temperature. Once thought to be a healthier alternative to artery-clogging saturated fats, they’re most often found in stick margarine, coffee creamer, refrigerated pastry dough, fried foods, snack foods, baked goods, frozen pizza and other processed foods to enhance texture, flavor and shelf life.

Over the last 20 years research has concluded that these trans fats are actually worse for the cardiovascular system than the demonized saturated kind. They increase “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, while decreasing “good” HDL cholesterol. To make matters worse, most of the foods that contain trans fats have little redeeming value to offer in the nutrient department. According to the FDA, removal of trans fats will prevent 20,000 heart attacks annually.

In January 2006, the FDA began requiring that all food manufacturers list trans fats on food labels. This led to a decrease in the amount some companies were using but looks were sometimes deceiving. If a food contains 0.5 grams or less per serving, the label can read 0 grams, so unless consumers check ingredient lists for hydrogenated oils they may be eating trans fats unknowingly.

Buyers (Still) Beware
For the time being, there are plenty of foods with trans fats out there so consumers should pay close attention to labels. Even if we do see artificial trans fats banished from this world, consumers still need to be mindful of the other dietary risks to cardiovascular health like saturated fat and cholesterol. If and when food manufacturers reformulate their products to remove trans fats, they often replace the hydrogenated oils with things like coconut oil and palm oil that are high in saturated fat.

What Happens Now?
This FDA action is still in the early stages. Only time will tell how well this will be received and how long before food companies take action. In the meantime, it might alert more consumers to pay attention to the trans fats currently in their diet.

Tell Us: What do you think about the proposed ban of trans fats?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

More posts from .
Tags:

Similar Posts

This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

In this week’s news: Mondays get even more meatless; the world learns what happens when a household bans sugar (hint: a book deal); and coupon-clipping takes a healthier turn. Hitting the Beach — and the Tofu Why book Canyon Ranch when you can visit Grandma in Boca? Earlier this week, the Florida city announced thatRead more

Comments (8)

  1. Theresa says:

    If and when food manufacturers reformulate their products to remove trans fats, they often replace the hydrogenated oils with things like coconut oil and palm oil that are high in saturated fat. ugh…virgin coconut oil and palm oils are awesome replacements for trans fats…don't miss lead the public by saying all saturated fats are evil..they are not. People do you own research and don't depend on one source.

  2. [...] Dietitians Chew the Fat (and Recommend the Good Kind) The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics just released updated guidelines for dietary fat intake. The position paper recommends that healthy adults eat 20 to 35 percent of their daily calories from good-for-you fats from foods like nuts, seeds and plant-based oils. The paper also suggests boosting intake of omega-3 fats, while limiting saturated and trans fats. [...]

  3. [...] Current Guidelines The position of evidence-based health authorities such as the American Heart Association and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines has been to urge Americans to reduce intake of saturated fat from butter, cheese and fatty meats while boosting consumption of unsaturated fats from plant-based oils, nuts and fatty fish. These organizations recommend capping saturated fat intake to 5 to 7 percent of total calories along with reducing intake of dietary cholesterol. Trans fats are also on the hit list, a recommendation that gained additional traction after a 2013 call from the FDA to ban them from the food supply altogether. [...]

  4. [...] Current Guidelines The position of evidence-based health authorities such as the American Heart Association and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines has been to urge Americans to reduce intake of saturated fat from butter, cheese and fatty meats while boosting consumption of unsaturated fats from plant-based oils, nuts and fatty fish. These organizations recommend capping saturated fat intake to 5 to 7 percent of total calories along with reducing intake of dietary cholesterol. Trans fats are also on the hit list, a recommendation that gained additional traction after a 2013 call from the FDA to ban them from the food supply altogether. [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>