This post was written by Ann Lokuta
By now you’ve most likely heard the latest news about trans fatty acids. If not, let’s get you up to snuff: Last week, the FDA announced that trans fats will be removed from the “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) food additive list. The million-dollar question at this point seems to be “What does this even mean?” Here at Nutritioulicious, we’ve previously talked about fats, but here’s the run-down on trans fats in 10 quick points.
- There are two types of trans fats: artificial (added to processed foods) and naturally occurring (in some meat and dairy products).
- If the FDA ruling becomes official it only applies to artificial types.
- Artificial trans fats are created when hydrogen is added to oil, a process that makes oils solid at room temperature, which increases the shelf life of food products and provides flavor at a relatively low cost.
- Artificial trans fat can be found in numerous packaged food products ranging from baked goods to popcorn. Trans fats can be identified in the ingredients list as “partially hydrogenated oil.”
- Trans fats have been shown to increase our risk of heart disease by increasing levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and decreasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
- If you have occasionally consumed products containing trans fat this does not mean that you are going to get heart disease; however, your risk of heart disease significantly increases when you consistently consume trans fat as a regular part of your diet.
- Zero grams of trans fats on the Nutrition Facts label doesn’t always mean zero. If a product has 0.5 g or less of trans fat per serving, it can be listed as 0 grams. Eat multiple servings of these foods and you can be taking in more than the daily recommended limit of trans fats (1.5 to 2 grams for most people).
- The average American still consumes 1 gram of artificial trans fat daily, which is why the FDA believes that “banning” this additive will improve the health of our nation.
- The process to officially approve the ruling will take time; so expect changes to go into effect within the next few years, not immediately.
- In the meantime, focus on improving your health now by eating a balanced diet (healthy, whole foods most of the time and treats in moderation) and engaging in regular physical activity.
Want to delve deeper into the issue?
- The FDA’s Press Release
- A Review of the Scientific Findings
- The History of Trans Fat
- Info on the 2003 Labeling of Trans Fatty Acids
What do you think about the trans fat ban?