Thursday, November 21, 2013

News Brief: “Just Eat in Moderation & You’ll Have Nothing to Fear?”

Sounds like a little bit of an oxymoron huh? If you’ve been watching the news or following Twitter, then you’ve probably heard of the recent ban proposed by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) surrounding use of trans-fat (aka partially hydrogenated oil) in foods.  Just in case you haven’t, today’s post will help make you an informed consumer.

Ever wonder why a package of mini-donuts has an expiration date six months in the future? Well, you can thank trans-fats for that! Trans-fats are a man-made ingredient found in packaged foods, bakery items, candy, sweets, and a laundry list of other products that assist in extending a product’s shelf-life. Trans-fats are similar in structure to that of saturated fats (found in animal products) but are made from vegetable oils that have had their carbon-carbon double bonds partially hydrogenated. Enough of the science; let’s move on!

Since 2006, legislation mandates that food companies label all food items that contain trans-fats; however, that doesn’t mean that a product labeled trans-fat free is completely trans-fat free. According to the FDA labeling laws, products with less than 0.5 grams of trans-fat per serving are allowed to be marketed as “trans-fat free.” This false advertising has led many to choose a product they believed was a healthier alternative.  In actuality, people are likely consuming small amounts of trans-fats that can add up significantly throughout their day  (i.e. 100 calorie popcorn…guilty!).

Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that eliminating all trans-fats from the food industry will have a significant effect on the incidence of cardiovascular disease over time. Reports show that 20,000 heart attacks will be eliminated and over 7,000 lives will be saved through banning trans-fats. WOW! Think of the impact this can have on you and your family’s health alone!
Although there is a 60-day period to allow food companies to eliminate trans-fats from their ingredients, you can start TODAY in making smarter choices for your health. Check out the ingredient label on your prepackaged foods; any words beginning with “partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated” indicate the presence of trans-fats.

Not sure which foods to look for? Common culprits include granola bars, packaged baked goods, chips, frozen foods…basically anything that has a long shelf life J
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