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FDA moves to ban trans fats from foods in the US

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

The Food and Drug Administration announced last week that they would be moving to ban trans fats from foods in the U.S.

Trans fats are used to provide flavor and texture to foods and they also give foods a longer shelf life. They are common in snacks and fast food, among other foods.

Small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in beef, lamb and full-fat dairy products, but most come from processing liquid vegetable oil to become a solid fat.

Trans fats travel through your digestive system to your arteries where they turn into sludge.

Trans fats are so prevalent because companies like using them in their foods because they're easy to use, inexpensive to produce and in the case of fast food outlets, they can be used to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fat can be re-used many times over in commercial fryers.

If trans fats are starting to sound nasty, it's because they are. Like saturated fats, trans fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. Unlike saturated fats, trans fats lower HDL (good) cholesterol and may do even more damage.

Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke as well as developing type 2 diabetes.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of trans fats you eat to less than 1 percent of your total daily calories. For example, if you need 2,000 calories a day, no more than 20 of those calories should come from trans fats. 

 Trans fats are commonly found in the following foods, but make sure to check food labels to know for sure:

  • Cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough and breads such as hamburger buns
  • Some stick margarine and vegetable shortening
  • Pre-mixed cake mixes, pancake mixes and chocolate drink mixes
  • Fried foods, including donuts, French fries, chicken nuggets and hard taco shells
  • Snack foods, including chips, candy and packaged or microwave popcorn
  • Frozen dinners

 

You can also spot trans fats by reading ingredient lists and looking for the ingredients referred to as "partially hydrogenated oils."

The Food and Drug Administration proposed measures last Thursday that would all but eliminate artery-clogging, artificial trans fats from the food supply, the culmination of three decades of effort by public health advocates to get the government to take action against them. 

Banning them completely could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year, the FDA has said. 

The agency has proposed that partially hydrogenated oils, the source of trans fats, no longer be "generally recognized as safe." 

Replace the trans fats in your diet with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.

For more information on trans fats and the FDA's latest move to ban them, tune in on Wednesday morning at 6:15 a.m. to watch Dr. Campbell's interview or come back after the show and watch the interview above.

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