Posted in Our Blog on August 8, 2012
Trimming Down the Trans Fat
I recently read an article by Lauran Neergard called “Trans fat ban made fast food a bit healthier in NY.” This article caught my eye because I’m often hearing a lot of negativity regarding trans fat, but was not really sure all the details about it. Trans fat is an unsaturated fat with the fatty acid transisomer. When it occurs naturally, in foods such as meat and dairy products, trans fat is not nearly as bad for you, and can even be beneficial. However, it starts to become dangerous when artificially produced via heat and/or pressure, turning liquid oils into solid fat, so it can be used for baking or for having a longer shelf life. The American Heart Association recommends less than two grams of trans fat per day, and urges consumers to eat as little as possible. Why? Because trans fat clogs your arteries and causes high cholesterol.
According to Neergard’s article, New York City banned restaurants from serving foods with more than half a gram of trans fat. Restaurants were forced to both eliminate menu items and alter recipes. By doing this, they were making the “default” much healthier. No, it wasn’t forcing people to switch from fries to fruit, but it was at least making fries healthier. While many nutritionists feared this was only replacing one bad ingredient with another, it turned out to not be the case. Researchers analyzed the receipts of approximately 15,000 lunchtime purchases at fast-food chains around New York City from 2007 to 2009, before and after the ban was put in place. The amount of trans fat in every lunch dropped an average of 2.4 grams post-ban. The biggest drop, Neergard says, occurred at hamburger chains, followed by Mexican food eateries and fried chicken chains.
The good news is that, overall, America’s consumption of trans fat has dropped by more than half over the last decade, not only because of the restaurant restrictions, but also because new guidelines force products to put the amount of trans fat on food labels. The bad news is that 10% of children and adults are still consuming more than 2.6 grams of “industrially produced” trans fat, due to the high numbers in foods such as frozen pizza, frozen desserts, microwave popcorn, and chips.
The FDA will continue to push for more bans and guidelines regarding trans fat and caloric regulations as a whole, but in the meantime my advice to you is this: Read labels. Know what you’re putting in your body. Try to eliminate the trans fats.
Foods highest in trans fats:
Click HERE to find out more about the amount of trans fat in the above-mentioned foods.
Now, challenge yourself to beat the American Heart Association’s suggestion to eat under two grams of trans fat daily. You can do it, just remember to read those labels.
by Cookie M., Contributor