Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Don’t Eat This Food!

Is there anyone out there still unaware of the dangers of artificial trans fat? If so, this post is for you.

Trans fat—found in cookies, muffins, breads, mayo, baby food, yogurt, packaged meals, french fries, doughnuts, fried chicken and many other foods—is touted as the most harmful fat (on a gram-for-gram basis) in the food supply. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, trans fat is responsible for about 50,000 fatal heart attacks annually.

Getting rid of artificial trans fat means getting rid of partially hydrogenated oil, which is the only source of artificial trans fat. Unfortunately, as consumers we continue to be flooded with these unhealthy, chemically-modified ingredients every day. Unless we educate ourselves and are constantly vigilant, most of us don’t even know what we’re actually ingesting.

Artificial trans fat is more dangerous on a gram-for-gram basis than any other fat in food because, like saturated fat, it raises LDL, the "bad" cholesterol that promotes heart disease. But unlike saturated fat, it also lowers HDL, the "good" cholesterol that guards against heart disease.

In July, the California State Senate passed a measure to phase out the use of artificial trans fat in restaurants putting the state on track to being the first in the nation to adopt this life-saving measure. Other states, including New York, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Washington are looking at menu labeling and mandates to phase out the use of artificial trans fats.

And while some processors of packaged foods have replaced partially hydrogenated oils with healthier fats, making the reformulated products not only free of trans fat, but also lower in saturated fat, there are many who have not.

We don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that, “artificial trans fat belongs in the history books, not our recipe books.”

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