January 5th, 2012 - Jill Ettinger
According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, eating fast food is connected with brain shrinkage that can lead to Alzheimer’s. This study, titled “Nutrient biomarker patterns, cognitive function, and MRI measures of brain aging” is one of the first to look at trans fat blood levels and its effect on the brain.
Read More:Fast Food and Trans Fats Linked to Alzheimer’s
October 21st, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Nutrition labels and symbols would best benefit shoppers if they appeared on the front of food packages and focused on calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium—the top four overconsumed nutrients, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The not-so-fab four are strongly associated with many of America’s health woes, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
The IOM recognizes that packages have limited space, so its expert committee believes information on cholesterol, fiber, added sugars, vitamins and other nutrients that are listed on Nutrition Facts panels (right) can remain on the back.
Read More:Front of Food Packages Should Highlight Calories, Fats, Sodium Levels
January 3rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
In July 2008, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (at podium, right) signed into law a bill that banned the use of trans fats in restaurants, effective Jan. 1, 2010.
Restaurants must now use oils, margarine and shortening that contains less than half a gram of trans fat per serving. Violators will be fined up to $1,000.
The second part of the law, a trans-fat ban for baked goods, takes effect next January. The lag time allows the industry to make the proper conversions.
As reported in the Sacramento Bee, the California Restaurant Association initially balked at the bill, but its spokesperson now says the industry is compliant.
Other opponents represented a wide spectrum of the food industry, from the California Grocers Association and California Retailers Association to the California Chamber of Commerce and California Retailers Association. Business interests resisting a public health-oriented change? Profits over patriotism? Not exactly shocking.
California is the first state to ban trans fats, following the lead of cities like New York, Philadelphia and Boston.
Read More:Trans Fats Gone from California Restaurants
December 13th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
It’s official: The New York City Board of Health has voted to ban artery-clogging artificial trans fats at restaurants.
Restaurants will be barred from using most frying oils containing artificial trans fats by next July, and artificial trans fats must be eliminated from all foods by July 2008.
“Trans-fatty acids are not just from the cook and his poor choices,” note David and Stephanie Tippie, directors of the Anti-Aging Clinic Association, Inc., in Florida. “Trans-fatty acids make unhealthy cell walls in the body because we are lacking in omega-3s. Food manufacturers in this country routinely remove the long-chain fatty acids—omega-3s—by way of processing food to give it a longer shelf life. This is the beginning of our troubles because it sets up weakened cell wall syndrome. Trans-fatty acids combine with excess sugar in our body from poor diet and create triglycerides, which create plaque, and that leads to atherosclerosis and heart attack.”
Some restaurant owners made the switch long ago.
“For years, I have been aware that trans fat is worse than cholesterol, and so I began searching for alternatives in cooking oils,” says Roger Berkowitz, owner of Legal Sea Foods. “I saw this as an opportunity for us to supply a healthier dining experience.”
Two years ago, he required all 30 of his East Coast restaurants, including those in New York, to conform to his “no trans fats” rule.
When shopping for conventional and organic food, be sure to read product labels to identify trans-fat content.
Fat Tips for Heart Health
Lifestyle and Stroke Risk
A Healthy Diet for Men
The War on Trans Fats (Part 1)
The War on Trans Fats (Part 2)
Read More:New York Votes for Trans-Fat Ban
November 8th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
As reported yesterday, the New York City Board of Health is considering a citywide ban on the sale of restaurant food made with trans fats.
The proposal would bar cooks at the city’s 24,600 foodservice establishments from using ingredients that contain the artery-clogging substance, commonly listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated oil.
Needless to say, the restaurant industry isn’t pleased with the idea, contending that it would ban a legal ingredient found in millions of American kitchens. But many experts believe this is great news for those committed to organic living and eating well, not to mention the public at large.
“Trans fat is found in foods such as vegetable shortening, margarine, pie crusts and kosher baked products labeled ‘pareve.’ It is used because it imparts the flaky texture that is desirable in many baked goods and is often used for deep frying because it is shelf-stable without needing refrigeration,” explains dietitian Andrea Boyar, PhD, chair of the Department of Health Sciences at Lehman College in Bronx, NY. “But the problem with trans fat is that it raises LDL, or bad cholesterol, and lowers HDL, or good cholesterol. It is also considered to be a pro-inflammatory molecule that can raise the risk of heart disease. So, as a nutritionist, I feel this is a bold, forward-thinking prohibition that will benefit the millions of New York City restaurant patrons.”
Others, however, fear the ban could lead to worse alternatives.
“We need to educate the public about these fats and make sure that a label is placed on all foods that contain any amount of trans fats,” says Mary Ellen Renna, MD, founder and president of Next Generation Fitness. “[But] have we banned the use of tobacco? Have we stopped making soda? We are aware of the problems that come with consuming these foods or smoking. If we completely ban the use of these fats, chances are some chemically altered new product will replace it, and it will take years before we identify the harmful effect it has on humans. For now, we know the enemy, so we know how to avoid it—just make sure all products label trans fats as they would if they contained peanuts in this highly peanut-allergy world.”
Let us know what you think.
The War on Trans Fats (Part 1)
New Nutrition Labels Highlight Trans Fat
Fat Tips for Heart Health
Read More:The War on Trans Fats (Part 2)
November 7th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Trans fats have been making headlines over the last few weeks. As OrganicAuthority.com explained in January, food processors and manufacturers are now required to include accurate information on trans fat content on nutrition labels so consumers can make wise food choices. We also offered Fat Tips for Heart Health—advice on replacing saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Trans fats are used in prepared foods because they increase shelf life and flavor stability. Unfortunately, they are major artery cloggers, and consumer watchdog groups have been pressuring restaurants and food manufacturers to switch to alternative fats in light of America’s obesity epidemic.
On Oct. 30, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) joined Wendy’s, Ruby Tuesday, Chili’s, Legal Sea Food and several other restaurant chains in making the switch to trans fat-free oils. KFC will soon use low-linolenic soybean oil that has zero trans fat—a move that led former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona to “encourage other companies to follow their lead.” (Note: KFC will fry its chicken in the new oil, but trans fats will still be found in the chain’s biscuits, pot pies and desserts. All menu makeovers are scheduled for April.)
So, why is a nonorganic fast-food establishment of interest to readers who buy natural and organic foods?
As readers revealed in one of our most controversial blog posts, A Mountain of Meat and Cheese, everyone “cheats” once in a while. More relevant for parents who embrace organic living is what their children and teens eat when faced with peer pressure and the allure of burgers stacked with cheese and bacon.
“The idea of a heart attack years from now has no meaning for a teenager,” says Jeff Novick, director of nutrition for the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa.
The good news? Educated parents can teach their children to eat a healthful diet.
“Teens and young adults can learn how to take care of themselves and can understand the value of health,” Novick tells OrganicAuthority.com. “I have taught these lessons to my own children, and I have taught these lessons to young people who take athletic performance seriously and understand the difference good nutrition can make. But it’s true: Many young people have a hard time understanding the consequences of their actions.”
Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), is pushing other fast-food restaurants with a high percentage of teenage customers to make public health a consideration.
“What are McDonald’s and Burger King waiting for now?” he asks. “If KFC, which deep-fries almost everything, can get the artificial trans fat out of its frying oil, anyone can. Colonel Sanders deserves a bucket full of praise.”
According to CSPI, safe, inexpensive and tasty trans-fat alternatives are available from major vegetable oil producers—all of which could prevent tens of thousands of fatal heart attacks annually. CSPI’s goal is to remove trans fat-containing partially hydrogenated oils from our food supply.
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2: The New York City Board of Health is considering a citywide ban on the sale of restaurant food made with trans fats.
Photo courtesy of KFC Corp.
Read More:The War on Trans Fats (Part 1)
January 4th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday, I explained the Food and Drug Administration’s new labeling requirements on trans fats, which became effective Jan. 1. As you settle into your organic lifestyle routines during this first week of 2006—and assuming your New Year’s resolutions are not yet in need of resuscitation—here are some additional tips on reducing your consumption of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol to prevent heart disease.
Read the “Nutrition Facts” Panel on Grocery Items—Even the Organic Kind
Choose foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. For saturated fat and cholesterol, keep in mind when reading labels that 5% of the daily value (%DV) or less is low and 20% or more is high. (There is no %DV for trans fat.)
Choose Alternative Fats
Replace saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which don’t raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels (“bad” cholesterol) and have health benefits when eaten in moderation. Sources of monounsaturated fats include olive and canola oils. Sources of polyunsaturated fats include soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and foods like nuts and fish. Avoid saturated fats like coconut and palm kernel oils.
Bond with Your Waiter
When dining out, don’t be afraid to ask which fats are being used in food preparation.
The FDA is conducting research to determine whether a footnote on Nutrition Facts panels, featuring dietary advice on saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol consumption, would be helpful to consumers as they monitor their diets.
Read More:Fat Tips for Heart Health
January 3rd, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
As of Jan. 1, food manufacturers are now required to list trans fat on nutrition labels. Consumption of saturated fat, trans fat and dietary cholesterol raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels—the “bad” cholesterol—and increases your risk of heart disease.
Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol have been listed on food labels since 1993. With trans fat added to the Nutrition Facts panel (see graphic), you’ll have help in making wiser food choices.
Trans fat is made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil—a process known as hydrogenation, which increases a food’s shelf life and flavor stability. It’s found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, potato chips and snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils. Unlike other fats, most trans fat is formed when food manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats, such as shortening and hard margarine. A small amount of trans fat is found naturally—primarily in dairy products, some meat and other animal-based foods.
While saturated fat is the main dietary culprit in raising LDL, trans fat and dietary cholesterol contribute significantly. While unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are beneficial when consumed in moderation, saturated and trans fats are not.
Use the new nutrition labels to compare foods and select items with lower amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. You will find trans fat listed on the Nutrition Facts panel directly under the line for saturated fat. Health experts recommend keeping your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.
It may surprise you to learn that some dietary supplements contain trans fat from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, as well as saturated fat and cholesterol. If a supplement contains a reportable amount of trans or saturated fat (0.5 g or more), manufacturers are now required to list the amounts on the Supplement Facts panel.
Read More:New Nutrition Labels Highlight Trans Fat