FDA Bans Trans Fats

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Based on a thorough review of scientific evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the major dietary source of industrially-produced trans fat in processed foods, are no longer generally recognized as safe. Food manufacturers have three years to remove PHOs from products.

Citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said taking trans fats out of the food supply could prevent 10,000 to 20,000 heart attacks and up to 7,000 heartrelated deaths a year.

Partially hydrogenated oils are created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lower the good (HDL) ones. Eating trans fats increases the risk of developing heart disease and some studies have found that it is associated with increased risk of stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Trans fats are found in many foods, including fried foods like doughnuts, and baked goods including cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers, and stick margarines and other spreads. Keep an eye out for them, they’re listed on the food’s Nutrition Facts panel.

Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University and chair of the AHA’s nutrition committee, said that there’s no evidence that minimal consumption is safe. Having lots of foods with a little trans fat could lead to problems, she said.

“A key concern is that many consumers may eat more than one serving of a food with minimal amounts of trans fat and that could add up to a significant amount,” Kris-Etherton said.

“With removal of partially hydrogenated oils, many foods will be higher in saturated fat because a solid fat is needed by the food industry for functional purposes,” said Kris-Etherton. “Consumers need to pay attention to the Nutrition Facts label and select foods that are lower in saturated fat.”

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