Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nutrition In the News

One nutrition topic in the news this week was trans fats. 
Trans Fats
In the news because the federal government is pressing towards banning all trans fats in our food supply.
What are Trans Fats?  This fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil which makes it a more solid fat.   But by making the fat more solid, they create a fat that is bad for our health. 
Why Are Trans Fats Bad for Your Health?
Trans fats are known as the “bad” fats.  Actually, the worst of the fats as they have been linked to heart disease, stroke and developing type 2 diabetes.  In an article by the Associated Press, (No More Trans Fat:  FDA Banning the Artery Clogger) they called them “heart clogging trans fats”.   Good description as these fats have been linked to heart disease because they not only aise your “bad” cholesterol (LDL –cholesterol), but also lower your good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol)  and thus increase your risk of heart disease.  Many people have heard saturated fats were linked to heart disease, but didn’t know  trans fats are even worse for your health. 
Why are trans fats in foods? 
Food manufacturers like to use trans fats to improve shelf life, flavor and the texture of foods.  You will find trans fats in processed foods and some restaurant foods.  Baked goods, pie crusts, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, stick margarine, shortening.  ready to eat cereals and frosting are foods that can contain trans fats.
How to Avoid Trans Fats:
·         Look for “0” trans fats on the label. 
·         Look for partially hydrogenated  oils in the ingredient list which is  another name for trans fats.   Since 2006, food labels list trans fats so you can avoid them by looking for “0” trans fats. 
There are some naturally occurring trans fats in meats and dairy products, but in small amounts so these aren’t considered such a threat to our health.
Why is the government asking manufacturers to dump the trans fats?  To save lives.  They estimate by getting trans fats out of the food supply,20,000 heart attacks could be prevented and 7,000 lives saved.  Some places have taken a step to ban these fats.  Bloomberg banned the use of trans fats in New York City.  Companies like Walmart are voluntarily getting trans fats out of the foods in their stores and hope to sell trans fat free foods by 2016. 
So far some of these reductions in the use of trans fats has been beneficial.  As a whole, Americans are eating less trans fats, declining from 4.6 grams in 2003 to 1 gram per day in 2012.  Which is good as the American Heart Association recommends we limit trans fats to less than 2 grams a day.
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