FDA Bans Trans Fats (Find out the foods that still contain these artery-clogging ingredients)
The FDA just announced that the food industry has three years to remove trans fats from the food supply. Trans fats result when food manufacturers hydrogenate liquid vegetable oil (referred to as partially hydrogenated oils) to make it solid at room temperature.
Trans fats help extend the shelf-life of foods and provide desirable texture and mouthfeel that consumers expect from products like cake frosting and pie crusts to crackers, coffee creamers, frozen pizza, stick margarine and microwave popcorn. Without the use of trans fats, food companies will use pricier saturated fats like butter, coconut and palm oils. (Even without trans fats, these foods should never be considered healthy.)
The FDA concluded that PFOs should be taken off the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list as they pose a risk to public health. That’s because eating just small amounts of trans fats are like a double-whammy for the heart: they increase the harmful LDL- cholesterol and lower the beneficial HDL cholesterol. In fact, the agency estimated that the removal of trans fats from the food supply could help prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year.
It’s long been recommended that Americans get zero to as little as possible of man-made trans fats so the food industry has been phasing them out for the past several years. In fact, some studies suggest that our consumption of them have decreased by nearly 80% thanks to food industry reformulations.
However, there are still several products that still contain trans fats. Here’s how to tell if a product you’re eating contains trans fats:
- Look for products that state on the label, “No trans fats.” However, understand that foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving can declare zero grams of trans fats per serving. But, even small amounts consumed are still considered a risk so you’ll want to take the second step.
- Look at the ingredient list to see if the product contains partially-hydrogenated oils (PHOs). If the product says partially hydrogenated oil, don’t buy it.