Truth about Trans fats
The elimination of Trans fat in American diets.
Trans fats have attracted much attention in the media. More and more research has revealed the many negative effects of consuming this nutrient, causing Americans to question the policies surrounding its use in our food supply.
Trans fats occur naturally in some animal products in small amounts. The majority of Trans fats in the food we eat are man-made in a factory to increase the shelf life of products that contain unsaturated fats. Some products that may contain Trans fats are cake mixes, biscuits, crackers, cookies and other pre-packaged items.
What is it about Trans fats that make them so unhealthy? According to the American Heart Association, consuming Trans fats increases your bad cholesterol and lowers your good cholesterol. It puts you at a higher risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that Trans fat consumption be limited as much as possible.
In November of 2013, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) began to take steps towards banning the use of Trans fats in the United States. The FDA has made a preliminary determination that Trans fats are no longer “generally recognized as safe.” If this determination is finalized, Trans fats will be considered an unapproved food additive, making it illegal to be used without specific approval.
Avoiding Trans fats can be tricky. Food production companies have been required to list Trans fats on their Nutrition Facts label since 2006. However, if there is less than .5 grams of Trans fat in a serving of that item, the company can claim that it contains zero grams of Trans fat. Fortunately, you can still find out if a product contains Trans fat by reading the ingredient list. Another name for Trans fat is “partially hydrogenated oil,” therefore, if this appears in the ingredient list of a product, it contains Trans fat even if the label says 0 grams. Read the Michigan State University Extension article titled Food labels 101: Understanding the nutrition facts panel.
The FDA is moving in the direction of banning all synthetic Trans fats in America’s food supply. Until this happens, be sure to read labels and ingredient statements. One way to avoid Trans fat is to cut out the pre-packaged, processed foods at the store. When possible, make your own products such as cakes, pizza crusts and muffins. When you prepare your own food, you are able to control exactly what goes in it!