FDA Mandates Trans Fats Be Listed Starting January 1

By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

Lorie Hagan is a community dietician for the Health and Wellness Center. She says: "Trans fat actually occurs two different ways."

The first type of trans fat is a specific type of fat formed when liquid oils are made into solid fats like shortening and hard margarine. The second kind of trans fat is naturally-occurring in some animal-based foods.

Trans fat can be found in some of the same foods as saturated fat, such as vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Hagan says: "You want to avoid to chips and replace it with fruits and vegetables some if the healthier choices with dairy you want to make sure you're using the low fat or fat free milk or cottage cheese."

Trans fat behaves like saturated fat by raising low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol that increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

Hagan says: "You have the liquid cooking oils that go through a process called hydrogenation that actually causes those oils to solidify or become hard. And that process is what causes the trans fatty acids."

Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavor stability of foods containing these fats, but it can decrease your body's shelf life.

Hagan says: "Trans fatty acid is actually what causes heart disease or contributes to it just like saturated fat. By causing plaque to build up in the arteries."

According to experts, eliminating trans fat completely from the diet would require such extraordinary dietary changes that it could cause an inadequate intake of some nutrients and create health risks, so it's best to just look at the labels and eat foods low in trans fatty acids.

For more information on how to check food labels and avoid trans fats check out click here: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/qatrans2.html.

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