Hands and heart Photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiegall/374268661/A big, fat change: What trans fats are, and why the FDA banned them

Posted September 16, 2015

It may surprise some people to learn that there really are such things as good fats. For example, fat from avocados is good; from Twinkies, bad.

Worst of the bad fats, according to many doctors, are artificial trans fats. This fat type is double trouble because it raises LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and lowers HDL (“good” cholesterol). A high LDL in combination with a low HDL increases the risk for heart disease, which is the leading killer of both men and women.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in June it would be removing artificial trans fats from the American diet with a 2018 deadline. The plan has been in the works since 2013, headed by consumer groups that claim eliminating trans fats may save thousands of lives a year and help prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths caused by heart disease.

Where does trans fat come from?

Some trans fats occur naturally, most often in certain meat and dairy products. This type (which is not being banned by the FDA) is okay in moderation and exists in smaller amounts compared to what is found in processed food products.
 
The artificial variety, however, are created through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil. This turns the oil solid when at room temperature. The process was created to give products a longer shelf life.

What foods will be affected by the ban?

Some of the foods that will be altered include:

  • Pre-made baked goods such as cookies, pie crusts, crackers, and frosting
  • Snack foods such as chips and prepackaged microwave popcorn
  • Ready-to bake dough, canned biscuits, and cinnamon rolls
  • Non-dairy creamers and margarine

The FDA predicts the ban will save $140 billion in health care costs over the next 20 years.

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The information written about in this blog is not intended to be medical advice. Please seek care from a medical professional when you have a health concern.