The good news is that harmful trans fats will soon be history. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last year that partially hydrogenated oils, the primary source of trans fats, must be phased out of the U.S. food supply by 2018. This familiar food ingredient, favored by food manufacturers for extending shelf life and delivering a creamy texture, is no longer “generally recognized as safe”, or GRAS, for human consumption. Instead of waiting two more years, you can remove trans fats from your diet now. A good start is checking for non-GMO Malaysian sustainable palm oil on the label.
Why did the FDA ban trans fat?
Studies have shown that this industrially created ingredient increases the risk of heart disease. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, reducing trans fat consumption this county could prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks each year.
Can I just choose products that say ‘trans fat-free’ on the label?
No. Unfortunately, there’s a trans fat loophole which makes for some extra work. In 2006, when the FDA required food manufacturers to list the amount of trans fats on nutrition labels, they also allowed manufacturers to label a food as trans fat-free if an individual serving contained less than 0.5 grams of trans fats. That means you may be unknowingly consuming trans fats. These small amounts can add up quickly, especially if you are known to consume more than a single portion of the offending food: something that’s easy to do when it comes to cookies or crackers.
Look for Malaysian sustainable palm oil on the list of ingredients.
Read the list of ingredients for all processed foods that you eat. If it contains the words ‘partially hydrogenated’, it likely contains trans fats. This harmful ingredient is formed during this chemical process producers use to make the shelf-stable fat. Many food manufacturers have already reformulated their recipes to remove trans fats. Some are using naturally trans fat-free and non-GMO Malaysian sustainable palm oil. If you see palm oil on the label, chances are the food is trans-fat free.