Moving Towards a Trans-Fat Free America!
We’ve known for many years just how bad trans-fat is for our body and weight loss efforts. But restaurants and manufacturers never really seemed to care. You had to be super-careful if you were to minimize the amount of trans-fat you consumed. However, since 2005, the trans-fat place into food has declined by over 50%.
Many restaurants and manufacturers have finally made the move away from the partially hydrogenated oil, which contains an extremely high amount of trans-fat. Hopefully in the near future, all the others will get on board and put an end to the use of this very unhealthy oil. If that were to happen, tens of thousands of lives would likely be saved each and every year.
We urge all government officials to do what’s necessary to make this happen and to put an end to trans-fatty foods.
(Above informational graphic credited to Mayo Clinic and American Heart Association)
What Exactly Trans Fat is…
This type of fat is very often found in french fries, cookies and other foods (especially fried foods). It’s easily the type of fat responsible for the bulk of harmful fats found in food if you’re looking at it on a gram-to-gram basis.
Trans-fat is is believed to be the culprit of roughly 50,000 heart attacks each year. Unfortunately, some food service providers and manufacturers don’t seem to care. While many have decided to change the way in which food is prepared and eliminate trans-fat, others haven’t.
Most commonly found in partially hydrogenated oil, trans-fat is fattend up with the added in hydrogren. That means it becomes more solid.
What Makes Trans-Fat Dangerous
As you may have heard, there are both good fats and bad foods. Some of the good fats are found in oils like corn oil, canola oil and olive oil- they’re monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. These fats actually help your body lower the amount of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol).
Trans-fat is one of the bad fats. The other bad one is saturated fat. Both of these are fats that will increase your LDL cholesterol. Trans-fat is worse, though. It not only increases bad cholesterol, but at the same time, it decreases your good cholesterol. It also increases the likelihood of developing diabetes.
Fact: The Harvard School of Public Health believes that trans-fat is the culprit of 50,000 deadly heart attacks per year and overall, anywhere between roughly 72,000 and 228,000.
Fact: American consume more than five grams of trans-fat per day, while the U.S. Dietary Guidelines say we should consume less than two.
Why Restaurants Have Been Slow to Eliminate Trans-Fat
Back in 2006, it became required by law that food labels clearly state the amount of trans-fat. This quickly urged large food manufacturers to make the move and reduce or eliminate trans-fat in their foods. It became clear, to consumers who paid attention, just exactly how much trans-fat was in their food and how bad it was for them.
On the other hand, restaurants don’t have to provide any specific food labels for what they serve. So naturally, it’s much harder for customers to determine what they’re really eating. Yes, many large chain food restaurants have taken the initiative to reduce and eliminate trans-fat. Some of them include KFC and Ruby Tuesday. But the fact is that the majority of restaurants still use it.
Areas Where Trans-Fat is Legally a No-No
There are a few places in the U.S. Where trans-fat has basically been banned. Both Philadelphia and New York City made it illegal to include trans-fat in restaurant food back in 2007.
Related laws were also passed later the same year in the following loctions:
- Stamford, Connecticut
- Brookline, Massachusetts
- Albany, Nassau and Westchester NY counties
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Montgomery County, Maryland
One entire country has even partially banned hydrogenerated oil: Denmark. Is it soon to be banned in your area? You can keep up with the new and ever-changing nutrition laws at cspinet.org.
Should the Government Get Involved?
In a nutshell: absolutely. New York tried to persuade restaurants on a voluntary basis to get rid of trans-fat. After a year, it was obvious it wasn’t working. The only way we’re going to get it out of our restaurants is if the Food and Drug Administration and/or Congress gets involved.
Healthier Alternatives to Switch to…
There are lots of trans-fat-free alternatives to hydrogenated oils:
- Canola oil
- Sunflower oil
- Soy oil
- Safflower oil
- Corn oil
If you need to bake pie crusts or other foods that require a harder fat than oils, there are many shortenings that are trans-fat-free. The leading shortening, Crisco, has even reduced the amount of trans-fat has been reduced to half a gram per serving.
Yes, some of the healthier oils may cost a bit more. However, they’ve been shown to have a longer fry-life, so the cost will even itself out.