Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How Much Trans Fat Are You Eating?

Trans fat is made from a manufacturing process in which hydrogen is added to oil to make it solid. Being easy to use, inexpensive to produce and able to last a long time, trans fat also give foods a desirable taste and texture. Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fat to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fat can repeatedly be used in commercial fryers.
Research has shown that even relatively small doses of few grams of trans fat a day could raise the bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and lower good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein). Hence, consuming high amount of trans fat can increase the risk of getting many chronic diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
While consumption of trans fat has fallen in the United States since a decade ago, a new study by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene revealed that trans fat is still remarkably pervasive in the United States food supply. Their findings were published August 28, 2014 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) journal ‘Preventing Chronic Disease’.
Among 4,340 top-selling packaged foods, 9 percent contain partially hydrogenated oil (PHO) that is the source of trans fat. Of these, 84 percent even proclaimed themselves free of trans fat, with 0 gram printed on the labels, as long as the amount is limited to between 0 and 0.5 grams trans fat per serving. Such labeling has caused confusion to consumers who are probably not aware that they are consuming trans-fat though they bought products with ‘0 grams’ trans fat.
Some of the foods with most trans fat were baked goods, snacks, frozen foods and products with seasoning in them. 35 percent of products in the cookies category contain PHO.
According to the Institute of Medicine, there is no safe level of artificial trans fat. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that they are considering revoking the “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) status of trans fat. If that is the case, the trans fat will be recognized to be unsafe, and food manufacturers would be required to remove them from all products.
Though restricting the use of PHO in packaged food would certainly benefit consumers preparing foods at home, an FDA ruling would also help ensure that restaurant customers are protected from unknowingly consuming industrial trans fat.
Some local jurisdictions, like California, New York City, Baltimore and Montgomery County, have restricted the use of PHO in food service establishments, but most Americans live in areas where no such regulation exists.
In fact, many countries including Denmark, Switzerland, Canada have reduced or restricted the use of trans fat in food service establishments.

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