The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced recently an upcoming ban on artificial trans fat use in the food industry considering it a public health menace in light of a significant increase in heart diseases, and in the hope of preventing an additional 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year and up to 20,000 heart attacks each year.
Now that’s an AMAZING health news to wind-up 2013 with!
While waiting to see how the FDA’s preliminary resolution will unfold, be an avant-gardist and let this be your own 2014 resolution! Making a resolution to opt for a “0 trans fat” eating habit has a twofold benefit: while protecting your body from the most harmful, high-cholesterol fat, a cut on trans fat also means a cut on many empty calories! So, forget about all those unrealizable, extreme diet resolutions and have this one health worthy objective.
Now how to track and avoid trans fat?
- While the natural type of trans fat occurs minimally in foods (some animal products like meat and dairy) and has so far been proved to have no major health concerns, it is the artificial trans fat that is behind obesity and heart diseases, the one created through a process called hydrogenation. This process transforms liquid fats (oils) to a more solid form, increasing their shelf-stability. In recent years, many food manufacturers, fast food chains and restaurants, reduced or eliminated the use of partially hydrogenated oil (PHO) and in consequence the trans fat content in their products has decreased. However trans fat can still be found in various processed foods.
- Foods that might contain trans fat: cookies, biscuits, crackers, chicken nuggets and wings, muffins, pizzas, garlic bread, hard taco shells, fries, donuts, vegetable shortenings and stick or hard margarine, microwave popcorn, croissants, coffee creamers, ready to use frostings and some other processed foods, mainly snack foods, baked goods and frozen foods.
- Most countries list trans fat content on nutrition labels. So checking the nutrition label is one big step to avoid that villain fat.
- Note that in the United States products that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, can indicate 0 grams trans fat on the label. Be aware of this disguise: If you eat multiple servings of foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, you end up with a high total amount of trans fat. So if a label lists 0 trans fat, look at the Ingredients List for the words “partially hydrogenated”, “margarine” or “shortening”.
- In some places, like New York City, restaurants are not allowed to use trans fat. Wherever you are, to make sure you’re escaping trans fat when you’re eating out, one strategy is to avoid fried foods and desserts and to opt for lower-fat dishes like stir-fried, barbequed or grilled and fresh fruits or sorbet. You may also consider asking the server, the chef, or the manager if the restaurant is a trans-free.
Bottom line, the more you opt for fresh or un-processed foods the less chance you have to encounter trans fat. Further, keep in mind that the very best way to keep control over your level of trans fat intake is to trust your cook and often the most reliable available person for that will be yourself!
Now, on a more personal note, I hope my husband’s secret affair with the Cronut (which I’ve uncovered only recently!) will end in 2014!