Not So Good "Foods"

Trans-Fats: A Synopsis

By: Tisha T. Casida

Trans-fats, which generally come from partially hydrogenated oils, are created when the molecular structure of oil is changed (they do this using a metal catalyst).  Trans-fats have been “proven” to be very bad for one’s cholesterol – it actually lowers your good cholesterol while increasing your bad cholesterol.  In addition to this, since it is a chemically-altered fat, there may be additional repercussions on the human body that take a period of time to recognize.  Now, I am not suggesting the scientists who have tested this don’t know everything, but I am hinting that they probably don’t know as much as we would like to think.  Here’s the interesting fact for us to consider – once it once discovered how bad these trans-fats were and there were instituted labeling requirements, all of the foods with trans-fats suddenly had “zero grams trans fats”.  There was no change in price, no change in consistency, no change in anything (including in MARGARINE which is almost pure hydrogenated oils) – but now all of these products which were supposed to be labeled with “trans-fats” no longer had any trans-fats.  Hmmmm.

So, I did some investigating.  It is suggested that someone should not eat no more than 2 grams of trans fats in a day – really, we should not eat any of them, they are not natural and are bad for your body, but let’s pretend we do the minimum.  A serving size, generally NOT what people eat in a day, is extremely small – check out the serving size on a pint of ice cream to see what I mean (most people eat more than the serving size).  The FDA requirements say that if there is LESS THAN .5 GRAMS OF TRANS FAT IN A SERVING SIZE THAT THE LABEL CAN SAY THAT IT HAS ZERO GRAMS OF TRANS FATS.

Do the math.

That means that if it has less than .5 grams per serving, in a small serving size, one can say “zero grams” even though there may be .5 grams per serving.  Now, .5 grams per serving, if eating 2-4 servings, quickly adds up – pretty soon you are at the 3-4 grams PER DAY.

Really, there is no way of really knowing how much we consume because the FDA has now made ‘.5 grams or less’ equal to zero.  This is incredibly unfair to consumers who depend on reading labels to figure out whether or not what they are eating is healthy.

I am not asking us to ban foods with hydrogenated oils, I am not asking that we end the manufacturing of products with trans-fats – all I am asking for is for our accounting of a number to be true – if there are .5 grams, or .4 grams, or .3 grams, etc. – then this should not be equivalent to zero!  The fact that the minimum suggested amount of trans fats is so small – these smaller quantities quickly add up and can have negative impacts on one’s health.

The truth is an important thing – and if we have labeling requirements, then those labels should have the truth on them.

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