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Everything You Need to Know About the FDA's Trans-Fat Ban

Stay on High Alert for Trans Fats

Since companies have three years to reformulate their products, in the meantime, you'll still need to read ingredients lists carefully to ensure you're not eating foods that contain artificial trans fats. Even products that list zero grams trans fat on the Nutrition Facts panel may contain small amounts, since companies are permitted to round down to 0 grams if they contain less than 0.5 gram trans fat per serving. The best way to evaluate packaged foods is to scan the ingredients list for "partially hydrogenated oil", the telltale signal that an item contains artificial trans fat. Keep in mind that while many mainstream companies have now eliminated partially hydrogenated oils from their products, generic brands may be slower to evolve. Pay special attention to the following foods, which are among those most likely to still contain partially hydrogenated oils:

  • Crackers, cookies, cakes, pastries, and other baked goods
  • Cake, pancake, waffle, and other baking mixes
  • Some stick margarines
  • Coffee creamers (liquid and powdered)
  • Refrigerated dough products (including biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and pizza dough)
  • Canned frosting
  • Snack foods (such as microwave popcorn and some snack bars)
  • Frozen dinners and pizzas

For example, check out the popular frosting brand pictured above. It may not contain any high fructose corn syrup (as it boldly proclaims on the label), but it does deliver an alarming 1.5 grams trans fat in every 2-tablespoon serving! (For an occasional indulgence, you're better off making a quick homemade frosting with butter or cream cheese.)

Most of the products listed above aren't healthy to begin with, since the trans fat usually comes packaged along with lots of refined white flour and/or sugar. Even without the added insult of trans fat, a sugar-oozing cinnamon bun doesn't win any nutritional awards. When reformulating foods, companies will most likely replace partially hydrogenated oils with cheap, shelf-stable saturated fats like palm oil, which provide empty calories and don't do your heart any favors. So, you'll still want to dramatically limit your intake of baked goods and other highly processed foods, even after the trans fats get dropped from the ingredients list.

The FDA ruling only applies to artificial trans fats added during processing. It does not address naturally occurring trans fats, which are found in small amounts in beef, lamb, and dairy products. Research on the health impact of natural trans fats is limited and there isn't enough evidence at this time to determine if they pose the same risks as man-made versions. It's still a good idea to limit red meat, and especially processed meats, for other health reasons.

One last word of advice: Even after trans fats get the boot, you'll still want to remain diligent about reading labels. Reviewing the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredients lists can help you identify better-for-you packaged foods that are lower in added sugars and sodium, made with whole grains instead of refined flours, and do not contain artificial additives.

Last Updated:6/17/2015
Important:The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not Everyday Health.
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Date: 06.12.2018, 01:21 / Views: 93443