This past June, the FDA announced they are moving forward with a ban on trans fats. Within three years, food manufacturers must remove the primary source of trans fats from their products, which are partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs).
This is excellent news for consumers. Trans fats have been shown to have many negative effects on health. They can raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels, and eating trans fats can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. They are also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
So where did trans fats come from? They are man-made and were invented in the 1890’s with a process that partially hydrogenates unsaturated fats. This means that hydrogen is added to unsaturated fats. The results are partially hydrogenated oils that are solid and very stable at room temperatures for extended periods of time. Trans fats are then added to processed foods that are meant to have a long shelf life.
Where are trans fats hidden? What foods typically contain them? Vegetable shortening, margarine, crackers, cereals, candies, baked goods, donuts, cookies, biscuits, frozen pizza, granola bars, chips, snack foods, salad dressings, fats, fried foods, and many other processed foods.
When reading nutrition labels, be sure that there are no partially hydrogenated oils listed in the ingredients. Consumers need to be aware that products can be listed as having “0 grams of trans fats” if they contain 0 grams to less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. So, it’s a little tricky because a food can be labeled as having no trans fats, but could actually contain them.
Overall, this is a great move for our health by the FDA. Until the ban is completely implemented, however, please read those labels and avoid trans fats. Try to eat as close to nature as possible with vegetables, fruits, lean protein, legumes and lots of water.
Here’s to good health!