Saturday, July 18, 2015

Is Trans Fat Considered Safe?

Trans fat has been a hot topic lately. Why are so many people talking about it? According to a recent announcement made on June 16, 2015 by the FDA (Food And Drug Administration), trans fat will have to disappear from the American diet because it is not “generally recognized as safe” for use in the human food. So FDA orders food manufacturers to stop using trans fat within 3 years.

While trans fat occurs naturally in small amounts in meat and dairy products, it is mainly formed by making liquid oil goes through a process called hydrogenation that makes the oil solid or semi-solid. That is why trans fat is also known as hydrogenated fat. It is often used for frying or as an ingredient in processed foods because it can help give products a longer shelf life, and it makes foods smooth and taste better, too.

Unfortunately, trans fat raises levels of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, LDL) and reduce levels of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, HDL). In other words, it put people at a higher risk of getting heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Fried and baked goods, from doughnuts and biscuits to frozen pizza and stick margarine, often contain trans fat. Microwave popcorn and fast food might also contain trans-fats. Often foods that stated “trans fat free” do contain trans fat. This is because food manufacturers are allowed by FDA to indicate “trans fat free” in the labels so long the foods do not have more than 0.5 grams of trans fat.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), people should consume good fats like olive oil, canola oil, and sunflower or safflower oil. Soft margarine should be used as a substitute for butter. When choosing foods, people should look for “0 gram trans fat” on the nutrition facts label and “no hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list. People are also advised to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and less of the fried and processed foods that most likely to contain trans fat.

Once trans fat is determined by the FDA as not generally recognized as safe, companies will have to seek explicit FDA approval if they intend to use it in foods. However, it is expected that the new ruling should not have great impact on the food industry since food manufacturers have already been using less trans fat. The Grocery Manufacturer's Association of America indicates that food makers have lowered the amount of trans fat in processed foods by 86 percent since 2003. 


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