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Artificial Trans Fats Out!

An announcement was made this past week to ban those artery clogging trans fats from the food supply. The fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid, which is why they are often called partially hydrogenated oils. They have been used in foods that need solid fat for texture, or in those that need a longer shelf life or flavor enhancement. Restaurants have been using them for frying as well. Foods that commonly contain trans fats include frostings, pie crusts, biscuits, microwave popcorn, coffee creamers, frozen pizza, refrigerated dough, vegetable shortenings and stick margarines. You can determine the amount of trans fats in a particular packaged food by looking at the Nutrition Facts panel. Products can be listed as “0 grams of trans fats” if they contain 0 grams to less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. You can also spot trans fats by reading the ingredient list and looking for the ingredients referred to as “partially hydrogenated oils.”
Trans fats can raise levels of “bad” cholesterol and lower “good” cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. They may also play havoc with your memory, a new study suggests.
The process of banning these fats began in 2013, when the FDA made a preliminary determination that trans fats no longer fall in the agency’s “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS category. GRAS covers thousands of additives that manufacturers can add to foods without FDA review. Food companies have until 2018 to phase them out.
More information from the Food and Drug Administration can be found at

For a primer on fats, go to
Nutrition for Health and Fitness: Fat in Your Diet