Do you ever wonder if all fats are bad for you? What are trans fats and how are they different from other types? I found this article by Mark Ransome that describes the differences.
Regulation Of Trans Fats by Author: Mark Ransome
Should we regulate the amount of trans fats contained in the
food we eat? A Canadian government task force on trans fats is
recommending that all vegetable oils and spreadable margarines
have the trans fat content limited to 2% of the total fat
content and all other foods be limited to a maximum of 5% of
total fat content. These new regulations would decrease the
average trans fat intake by at least 55%.
What are trans fats? Fatty acids in foods are made up of
polyunsaturated (like safflower oil, sunflower oil and corn
oil), monounsaturated (like olive oil, peanuts, and avocados),
saturated (like coconut oil, palm oil, butter and cheese) and
trans fats (like margarine and shortening). Saturated and trans
fats are linked to coronary heart disease. The majority of trans
fats are produced by the food industry when it uses a process
called hydrogenation to turn liquid vegetable oils into
semi-solid products. This process hardens and stabilizes the
oils, enhances the flavor and extends the shelf life of food
products. These trans fats also break down less easily which
makes them more suitable for frying. The majority of trans fats
are found in foods made with shortening, margarine or
partially-hydrogenated oils and in baked goods like crackers,
cookies and donuts and in fried foods like french fries and
fried chicken. The trans fat content of some of these foods can
be as high as 45% of the total fat in the food product. Trans
fats also occur naturally at fairly low levels in
ruminant-based foods like dairy products and beef and lamb.
Are trans fats worse than saturated fats? There is a lot of
evidence linking both trans fats and saturated fats to coronary
heart disease. Trans fats appear much more dangerous because
metabolic studies have shown that they increase the blood
levels of our bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease the levels of
our good cholesterol (HDL). Saturated fats appear less damaging
because they elevate the total cholesterol levels - both bad
(LDL) and good (HDL). The Harvard School of Public Health found
that removing trans fats from the industrial food supply could
prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks and cardiac deaths
each year in the US. The findings are published in the April
13, 2006 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Government organizations around the world have started to act
to resolve the problem. In 2002, the US National Academies of
Science recommended that trans fat consumption be kept as low
as possible. In 2003 the World Health Organization recommended
that trans fat intake be limited to less than 1% of overall
energy intake. Also in 2003, Denmark set an upper limit on
industrially produced trans fats in foods, limiting them to
just 2% of the total fats in foods. They excluded meat and
dairy products. In 2005 Canada required mandatory labeling of
trans fats in packaged foods. The US followed in 2006 with a
mandatory labeling for any foods containing 0.5 grams or more
of trans fats per serving.
Is mandatory labeling sufficient? Shouldn't we let informed
consumers self-regulate the amount of trans fats they consume?
Once the consumer understands how harmful trans fats are and
that as little as 5 grams per day can lead to heart disease,
then mandatory labeling will force the food industry to reduce
the amounts contained in food products much faster than a bunch
of government regulations, However what about restaurants and
the fast food industry? Here is where the Canadian government
task force recommendations are probably a good thing. Consumers
do not know how much trans fats there are in french fries, deep
fried chicken and baked goods. Therefore we should adopt the
recommendation from the June 27th, 2006 final report of the
Trans Fat Task Force that states - “For all vegetable oils and
soft, spreadable (tub-type) margarines sold to consumers or for
use as an ingredient in the preparation of foods on site by
retailers or food service establishments, the total trans fat
content be limited by regulation to 2% of total fat content.”
This will allow us to eat restaurant and fast food industry
foods with the knowledge that the trans fat content is limited
to 2% or less.
About The Author: Mark Ransome is a contributing editor and
writer for the popular new website – Benefits of Antioxidants.
Visitors to http://www.benefits-...ntioxidants.com will have
access to a new free diet and weight loss program – The
Psychiatrist’s Weight Loss Program.
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What are Trans Fats and are they bad for me?
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