Nutrition-wise blog

Trans fat — should it be in your food?

By Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. February 1, 2014

In November 2013 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made an important preliminary announcement that partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). This follows recommendations from the Institutes of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to avoid trans fat in manufactured foods because no level appears to have a health benefit.

Trans fat negatively raises low density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. Trans fat may also have other adverse health effects, including lowering high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol. It's predicted that eliminating trans fat in manufactured foods could prevent up to 20,000 cases of coronary heart disease and up to 7,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

The FDA is seeking additional scientific data and information, as well as possible approaches to setting an allowable level of trans fat in foods. You're invited to comment on the issue on the FDA website. The deadline has been extended to March 8, 2014.

But you don't have want to wait for the final ruling to reduce the amount of trans fat in your diet. Start now by cutting back on the number of processed foods you buy. When you're grocery shopping, check the Nutrition Facts label, especially on baked goods, such as cookies and cakes, frostings, microwave popcorn, frozen pizzas, coffee creamer, stick margarine, and some refrigerated dough, to find out how much trans fat a food contains. Even if the label lists zero grams of trans fat, the food may contain a small amount, so check the ingredient list too. If you see any type of partially hydrogenated oil listed as an ingredient, leave that product on the shelf.

Does the FDA announcement surprise you? Do you read food labels? Does this change your view on processed foods and ingredients? Please share your thoughts.

To your health,

Katherine

Feb. 01, 2014