Hello SOTGC community,
Recently, you may have heard that the Federal and Drug Administration is looking to regulate trans fat use in our food supply as it is increasingly being recognized for its unhealthy effects. It seems they may be acknowledging the public health epidemic of obesity and heart disease, and trying to do something about it so Americans can live healthier lives. Is trans fat really that bad for you? Yes.
Trans fat (partially hydrogenated oil) is artificially made through a process of adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats, making it cheap, easy to cook with and extending its shelf life. It is commonly used to make many processed food products. The reason trans fat has a bad reputation is because it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing unhealthy LDL cholesterol, and decreasing healthy HDL cholesterol. An overall increase in the consumption of processed foods leads to more trans fat ingestion over a lifetime, thus accelerating the risk of both obesity and heart disease. The state of our food, the quality of our fat sources, and the state of our health seems to have gained the attention of the FDA.
While the use of trans fat has dropped dramatically over the last decade, it is still often a popular choice for food preparation due to its low cost and long shelf life. There has been a push internationally to reduce the use of trans fat in food products as well and it seems that everyone is now recognizing the difference between healthy versus unhealthy fat. Statistics show reducing trans fat consumption could save Americans 10,000-20,000 heart attacks and 3000-7000 heart disease deaths annually, accordingly to the Centers for Disease Control.
So what can you do to monitor your intake of trans fat?
- Avoid products such as creamer, margarine, and shortening.
- Read the Nutrition Fact label and the ingredient list. Avoid foods that list “partially hydrogenated oil” or “ shortening” as an ingredient.
- Pick foods that use healthy oils such as olive or canola oil.
- Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources, while staying away from fried foods and processed, prepackaged foods.
- When dining out, ask how your food is being prepared.
Be an educated consumer of fat. Enjoy your food, but know the facts so you can enjoy your health.