trans fats

@savypat (20248)
United States
October 15, 2008 2:39pm CST
When I read this I felt we could all use a little reminder. I know I can. All these things with Trans fats taste so good. Over the past decade, trans fats have emerged as a nutritional no-no. First, researchers began tying them to higher incidences of coronary heart disease. Then, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required food manufacturers to disclose the trans fat content of their products on nutrition labels. And this past July, California joined the ranks of locales such as New York City, Philadelphia, and Seattle by becoming the first state to ban trans fat from foods sold in restaurants and at major retail outlets. Why ban a substance that makes pies so flaky and Twinkies literally ageless? Simply put, trans fats, which most commonly occur in foods when hydrogen is artificially added to vegetable oil, are a primary culprit in coronary heart disease because they raise levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol while lowering levels of HDL “good” cholesterol. Years ago, the only trans fats were from animal-based fats, but with the invention of this chemical process known as hydrogenation, now virtually any oil can be converted into a trans fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your trans fat intake to less than 1 percent of your total daily calories, so to protect your health, be sure to steer clear of the following foods: Margarine and shortening. Many sticks of margarine contain between 1 and 2.5 grams of trans fat, so it’s best to stick to soft and liquid forms of margarine, which are trans fat-free. And while brand-name shortenings have done away with trans fat, generic brands can contain as much as 2 grams. Pies and cakes. Before raging against trans fat was all the rage, about 95 percent of packaged cookies and crackers bore a considerable amount of the artery-clogging substance. Like the fast-food industry, the manufacturers of partially hydrogenated oil-laden pies, cakes, cookies, chips, and crackers have stepped up to the demand for trans fat- free indulgence. Even the Oreo has been reformulated. Keep in mind, though, that pastries from bakeries and restaurants in cities and states that have not imposed a ban on trans fat could harm your heart if consumed in excess. Fast food. With the exception of Burger King, most major fast-food chains have responded to the medical community’s call to reduce the levels of trans fat in their products; most now impart fewer than 0.5 grams of it per serving (be advised: the FDA allows manufacturers to list products that contain fewer than 0.5 grams of trans fat as having zero trans fat). Nevertheless, cheeseburgers can pack up to 3 grams of trans fat, and a large serving of Burger King’s hash browns contains a whopping 13 grams. Fried food. One of the redeeming qualities of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is that it won’t catch fire when exposed to the high-temperature conditions of a deep fryer, which is why fried foods were once among the trans fattiest of all. What’s changed? Food chemists have successfully developed trans fat-free partially hydrogenated oils that are now in use at many fast-food restaurants. But these oils are not in use everywhere, so an order of French fries at the county fair is likely to be rich in trans fat. In other words eat at your own risk
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