Category Archives: tran fats

Good news: Americans are eating less trans fat. The bad news is it’s still too much.

trans fat1Trans fats — the fats that pack a double whammy by lowering good cholesterol and raising the bad — has been under scrutiny for quite a while. We’re still waiting to hear news on the FDA’s proposed ban of trans fats from our food supply. That would mean the end of the use of partially hydrogenated oils in processed foods and that would, indeed, be a welcome improvement for all of us! We are, however, getting better at avoiding trans fats before any kind of ban.

There appears to be a downward trend in the amount of trans fats being consumed by Americans, according to a new study. Unfortunately, the level of consumption is still higher than is recommended by the American Heart Association.

Researchers reviewed the findings of a series of six surveys carried out as part of the Minnesota Heart Survey, from 1980-2009. The surveys included data from over 12,000 adults aged 25-74 in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Intake of both trans fat and saturated fats fell during this period but was still some distance away from the levels recommended as healthy by the American Heart Association (AHA).

“There’s a downward trend in trans and saturated fat intake levels, but it’s clear that we still have room for improvement,” says Mary Ann Honors, lead author of the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Trans fats raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol levels in the body and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol. They have been found to increase the risk of coronary heart disease – the number one cause of death in the US – along with stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The main source of trans fats in American food is in partially hydrogenated oils, created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils in order to make them more solid. These trans fats are referred to as artificial trans fats.

Partially hydrogenated oils are utilized as an inexpensive way to extend the shelf life of food and improve texture and flavor stability.

Fried, processed and commercially baked goods are the main sources of artificial trans fats. Cookies, doughnuts, pastries, pies, pizzas and sticks of margarine are all regularly made using partially hydrogenated oils.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) state that there is no safe level of artificial trans fats consumption and so consumption should be kept as low as possible. The AHA recommend limiting trans fats to no more than 1% of total calories consumed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), avoiding artificial trans fats completely could prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 coronary heart disease deaths in the US every year.

The researchers found that trans fat intake had decreased by around 32% in men and 35% in women over the course of the study. However, men and women still consumed 1.9% and 1.7% of their daily calories, respectively, from trans fats – significantly higher than the AHA’s recommended level.
Similarly, the intake of saturated fats dropped but levels were still much higher than what the AHA consider to be healthy. Men and women took 11.4% of their daily calories from saturated fats, whereas it is recommended that saturated fat consumption should be limited to just 5-6%.

Intake of omega-3 fatty acids was also measured and found to have not changed significantly over the last 3 decades. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, yet the researchers found that the current level of intake is relatively low.

“To make your diet more in line with the recommendations,” says Honors, “use the nutrition panel on food labels to choose foods with little or no trans fats.” Caution is needed; the AHA advise that products can be listed as containing 0 grams of trans fats if they contain 0-0.5 g of trans fats per serving. Look out for partially hydrogenated oils in lists of ingredients.

Although the study participants were predominantly white men and women living in a small area of the country, the authors write that similarities between their study and levels of intake reported in national data suggest their findings may generalize well to the US population.

The authors state that future research is needed in order to determine public health strategies to reduce further the levels of trans and saturated fat intake. In the meantime, the CDC suggest that eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein and low-fat or fat-free dairy products is the best way to avoid trans fat.

FoodFacts.com hopes that everyone understands that the consumption of trans fats is based on the consumption of processed foods. Fast food, packaged foods, boxed foods — avoiding these equates with avoiding trans fats. When you prepare fresh foods at home in your own kitchen, you’re not using partially hydrogenated oils in your recipes. The enormous increases in heart disease in the population have occurred simultaneously with the unprecedented increase of processed foods in our food supply. That’s not coincidental. Until some sort of regulation is put in place restricting trans fats (and probably even after), get cooking and stay healthy!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284246.php

New study finds food labels mislead consumers about trans fat. Surprised?

????????????????????????????????????Nope. Not a bit. That’s because current food labels do mislead consumers when it comes to trans fat.

People may be consuming more trans fat than they think, as a result of misleading food labels, according to a study from the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Researchers examined 4,340 top-selling packaged foods and found that 9 percent contained partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat. But of those foods, 84 percent claimed on their packaging to have “0 grams” of trans fat.

The amount of trans fat in these products varied from small traces to almost 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the researchers said.

Under the rules of the Food and Drug Administration, foods that contain less than 0.5 g of trans fat per serving must be labeled with “0 g” of trans fat.
“This labeling is cause for concern because consumers, seeing the 0 g trans fat on the nutrition facts label, are probably unaware that they are consuming trans fat,” the researchers wrote in their study, published in the in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Trans fat is a specific type of fat that is formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oils to turn them into solid fats. The FDA has tentatively determined that partially hydrogenated oils are not “generally recognized as safe” for consumption. If the FDA makes a final determination, trans fat would become an illegal food additive.

People who consume trans fat may be at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, studies have suggested.

The food products examined in the study ranged from cookies to salad dressing and canned soup.

“Our analysis demonstrates that industrial trans fat is still common in U.S. packaged foods, particularly in some food categories,” the researchers said.
For example, half of the foods in the potato chips category, and 35 percent of cookies contained trans fat, according to the report.

FoodFacts.com has been reporting on this phenomenon for years. Long story short — only educated and nutritionally aware consumers understand that 0 trans fat doesn’t always equal 0. As long as the product in question contains less than .5 grams, the manufacturer is permitted to list trans fat content as 0. The concern of course, is that if the consumer eats more than a single serving of that product, the trans fat can quickly add up. Take cookies for example, which were included in this research. An average serving size of cookies as listed on most packaging is three cookies. If you eat six cookies that contain .5 grams of trans fat per serving of three, you’ve consumed one gram of trans fat. Throw some canned soup in the mix for the day and maybe some potato chips and it’s really difficult to know exactly how much trans fat you’ve consumed in that 24 hour period.

This is a great reminder for those who already understand the facts about trans fat — and a great learning opportunity for those who didn’t yet understand — that just because you think it doesn’t contain trans fat, doesn’t mean that’s the case. We’re crossing our fingers that the proposed trans fat ban does become reality. In the meantime, let’s all remember that when it comes to nutrition labels, not every 0 represents the same thing.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/consumers-beware-misleading-labels-hide-trans-fats/

Misleading trans fat claims make news as Quaker settles labeling law suit

iStock_000041289832SmallWhen it comes to trans fat, FoodFacts.com has always been amazed that manufacturers are able to label foods containing less than .5 grams per serving as “trans fat free.” The labeling is false, it’s purposely misleading and it relies on the idea that consumers don’t understand ingredients. What manufacturers forget, though, is that there actually are educated consumers out there who understand that partially hydrogenated oils in an ingredient list indicate the presence of trans fat in a product. And some of them are willing to do something about misleading product claims.

The Quaker Oats Co., a division of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo, Inc., has agreed to remove trans fats from its Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal products as part of a lawsuit settlement dating back more than three years.

Under terms of the settlement filed June 12 and made final on July 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Quaker Oats said it will pay up to $760,000 in attorney fees and estimates it will spend about $1.4 million to reformulate the products.

Although Quaker continues to deny allegations that the products contain or contained false or misleading labeling, the company has agreed to remove partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) from Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal by the end of 2015. Quaker also has agreed not to re-introduce PHOs into those products for at least 10 years thereafter, and has agreed not to introduce PHOs into Quaker Chewy bars, or the Instant Quaker Oatmeal Products that do not currently contain PHOs, for a period of 10 years. Finally, Quaker has agreed to stop making the statement “contains a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat” on the labels of any of its products that contain 0.2 grams or more of artificial trans fat per serving by the end of this year.

Approximately 50 different varieties of Quaker’s Instant Oatmeal and Chewy and Oatmeal to Go bars were named in the settlement.

So even though Quaker is still standing by its product statements, they’ve agreed to remove trans fat from the products named in the lawsuit. Nothing wrong with the products, seemingly, just that pesky lawsuit.

We don’t really think that’s it. Instead, we think that it makes more sense for Quaker to settle out of court so that the company can stand by its claims and its products while making some quiet changes than to let this go to court where millions of other consumers may develop a clear understanding of what’s really in their products.

This is a victory for consumers, undoubtedly. At the same time, we’d really rather that the strange rule about claiming 0 grams of trans fat when products really do contain it would disappear.

http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Business_News/2014/08/Quaker_settles_trans_fat_label.aspx?ID=%7B84BC2EC0-2C7E-45A4-9A3A-F87392B80CBB%7D

10 ways food labels mislead consumers

Day after day we learn more about how misleading food labels continue to dupe consumers with keywords and bold statements that feed into people’s dietary needs and weight loss goals. This doesn’t mean all food labels are lying because plenty of products are “fat free” or made with “real fruit,” but what about the other nutritional facts or ingredients?

Foodfacts.com observes that, unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate all food labels and cannot keep food manufacturers from using clever wording to avoid a potential lawsuit. What you can do is read the nutritional facts and ingredients list to find the truth behind the fancy wording and manipulative marketing. Here are 10 misleading food labels to look out for:

* “Zero grams trans fat”
Since trans fat have become the ultimate no-no in today’s diet, many companies have cut trans fat from their products. However, it has led way to a manipulative marketing move to promote 0 grams of trans fat, without indicating the product’s level of saturated and total fat. Food labels know people are looking for the label that says “0 grams trans fat,” but they may skip over the saturated and total fat amount, which is just as important.

* “All natural”
The “all natural” stamp is one of the most abused and misleading food labels used by food manufacturers today. Many of these so-called “all natural” products use citric acid, high-fructose corn syrup and other unnatural additives, but still get to bear that positive label. Always check the ingredients list to know exactly what’s in your food.

* “Whole grains”
Chances are you’ve seen the label, “Made with Whole Grains,” pop up on bread, crackers or rice products now more than ever. The reality is that many of these whole grain products are actually made with refined wheat flour and maybe a small percentage of whole grains. In order to check the validity of the whole grains label, check out the listed ingredients. Unless “whole grains” is one of the first ingredients on the list or if you see “enriched wheat flour,” it’s likely that your product contains a small percentage of whole grains.

* “Fiber”
Food products that contain fiber has become a growing trend in the food industry because consumers are looking for foods that are going to keep them fuller for longer, help regulate their digestive systems and lower their blood sugar. Shoppers might see their favorite cereal bar or yogurt is labeled “a good source of fiber,” but they won’t see where the fiber comes from listed anywhere. Many of the products you find with the label “contains fiber” actually contain isolated fibers, like inulin, maltodextrin, pectin, gum and other purified powders that are added to boost the not-so-fibrous foods.

* “Light”
When a food label says “light” as in “extra light olive oil,” consumers are misled to think that a product is light in fat or the fat content has been cut in half. Unless the product says reduced fat, “light” is generally referring to a lighter color of the original product, such as light-colored olive oil.

* “Heart healthy”
Many of today’s foods claim to be “heart healthy,” but don’t have FDA approval or scientific evidence to support such bold claims. These types of “heart healthy” labels mislead consumers into thinking they will improve their heart health by eating this particular food. Considering that heart disease is the number one killer in America, this food label is dangerous to promote if it’s not true.

* “Low fat”
The label “low fat” can be very misleading to consumers because, while it may be low in fat, it may also be loaded with sugar or sodium that won’t be highlighted. In addition, manufacturers are playing into people’s awareness of fats and efforts to lower their fat intake by advertising exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t be fooled by a “low fat” food label without examining the rest of the nutrition facts, and making sure that the product is well-balanced and healthy in its other areas.

* “Low sugar”
Just like “low fat” indicators, “low sugar” food labels are misleading for consumers because it plays up one nutritional factor to downplay a not-so-healthy factor, such as a high amount of calories, sugars or fat. Manufacturers also get around saying “contains sugar” by saying “lightly sweetened” or “no sugar added,” but you have to look at how much sugar is in each serving to know for sure.

* “Free range”
The “free range” food label can be found on meat, dairy and eggs at your local grocery store, but this progressive way of farming is not always as it seems. What consumers may not know and won’t see on their “free range” foods is that the USDA regulations only apply to poultry. Therefore, “free range” beef, pork and other non-poultry animals were fed grass and allowed to live outdoors, but their products are not regulated by the USDA. Another misconception consumers have about “free range” is that these products are also organic. Unless it’s labeled free range AND organic, free range animals may be fed nonorganic fed that could contain animal byproducts and hormones.

* “Fresh”
The “fresh” food label can be very misleading to consumers, by making them think their chicken was killed the day before, or their “freshly squeezed” orange juice was prepared that day. The label “fresh” simply means that it was not frozen or is uncooked, but many of these products are allowed to be chilled, kept on ice or in modified atmospheres to keep them from spoiling.

Foodfacts.com does not endorse specific views about nutrition or exercise, but presents interesting news and information worth reading about. As always, consult a physician or nutrition professional before making any major changes to your diet. Be sure to SCORE your foods so that you’re empowered to make good food choices. The Food Facts Health Score is FREE to use with your free membership at Foodfacts.com.

Plant-based diets and their affect on coronary heart disease

FoodFacts.com wanted to share this important information regarding coronary heart disease with our community. This new information may have an impact on the dietary habits of you, your family or friends.

While we’ve always known that risk for coronary disease is impacted by one’s diet, and that a plant-based diet can, in fact, stop the disease from progressing or even actually reverse it, a new article is suggesting that fats in your diet play a large part in your risk of ever developing it.

W.C. Willet (Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health) has written an article linking consumption of fats to coronary heart disease risk. In publishing his report, Dr. Willett reviewed 95 various studies. What he found might help us understand how each type of dietary fat influences the development of coronary heart disease.

The findings state that trans fats are clearly related to the risk of coronary heart disease and should be completely eliminated from our diets. Noted is the presence of partially hydrogenated oils in so many food products. Also noted is the fact that both beef and dairy products contain natural trans fats.

Moving on to saturated fats, his findings indicate that consumption should be reduced and most optimally replaced by polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. In addition replacing saturated fats with specific carbohydrates (that do not contain added sugars) will reduce coronary heart disease risk even further.

While Dr. Willett also specifies that it may be important to achieve a low ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. While both of these are important to reduce the risk of heart disease, it is felt that Americans have a high intake of omega-6 from vegetables. He cites both corn and soybean oil as undesirable because they contain high levels of omega-6.

What he’s concluding is that by reducing red meat and dairy while increasing nuts, fish and better vegetable oils, we can improve our intake of the fatty acids that protect us from heart disease. But he goes further stating that diets emphasizing fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in refined starches, sugars and salt will do the most to reduce the possibility of developing heart disease. In other words, a plant-based diet is the way to go to ward off this disease.

FoodFacts.com wants you to have the information you need to make the best decisions for yourself and your family when it comes to dietary choices. Read more here: http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Nutrition/Diet/dietary_fat_and_coronary_heart_disease_0815120714.html

“But the label says no trans fat, so it’s fine” … exploring a modern myth

On the FoodFacts Facebook page this week, we’ve looked at products containing Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil and Partially Hydrogenated Canola Oil, There are at least a few more “Partially Hydrogenated” oil substances to delve into in terms of food ingredients. But as we looked more closely at the subject, we realized that this is a very important topic for this blog.

We feel very strongly about education and even though trans fat is something you always hear about, we think, perhaps, we all need to be reminded of exactly how it is, or isn’t, being regulated. And that all depends on how you look at it.

First let’s make this point. Any oil listed as a food ingredient that begins with the phrase “partially hydrogenated” signifies the presence of trans fat in the food product it’s included in. It is impossible for the use of any partially hydrogenated oil not to result in a certain amount of trans fat. It doesn’t matter what type of oil is undergoing the process … vegetable, canola, sunflower, cottonseed – it all results in the same thing.

So here’s a random (and partial) ingredient list:
Citric Acid, Glycerol, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Potassium Sorbate, Flavoring Natural, Wheat Flour, Wheat Whole, BHT, Caramel Color, Corn Syrup, Barley Malted Syrup, Corn Syrup Malted, Niacinamide (Vitamin aB), Canola Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Sunflower Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Iron Reduced,  Salt, Vitamin A (Retinol Palmitate), Vitamin B6, Whey, Zinc Oxide, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Folic Acid (Vitamin aB), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D

And here’s that ingredient list’s corresponding nutrition label:
You’ll note that the Trans Fat line reads 0 grams.

It’s within FDA requirements. The product hasn’t lied, they haven’t made a mistake and they haven’t been mislabeled. But the product still contains trans fat – even though it says it doesn’t.

According to the FDA, any product whose trans fat level falls below .5 grams per serving can list itself as having NO trans fat. Maybe that doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, but it really can be and it’s really something we should all pay attention to.

There is no RDA for trans fat in the United States. In fact, all we’ve heard is that we should consume as little trans fat per day as possible. It’s just downright bad for us … trans fats add to weight gain and obesity problems, they help clog arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. There’s even research that points to the contribution of trans fats to the risk of diabetes.

Let’s assume that you have one serving of 5 different food products marked 0 g. trans fat per day. Let’s also assume that each of those servings actually contains .45 g of trans fat. You just consumed 2.25 g of a fat that has no determined level of safety!

The labeling of trans fat is regulated … sort of. Anything over .5 g per serving has to be noted on the nutrition label and anything below that counts as a 0.

Since it’s only a “sort of” regulation, it leads us to determine that until things change, we need to regulate ourselves. Any additional trans fat is unhealthy.

FoodFacts.com wants to keep you focused on your healthy lifestyle. Be a savvy consumer and be able to identify the myriad of products that contain trans fat. Keep reading, but make sure you’re reading more than nutrition labels. You need to read ingredient lists and keep your attention on the words “Partially Hydrogenated”. That’s the key to determining whether or not the product you’re considering actually contains trans fat.

Interesterified Fat: A Controversial Replacement for Trans Fat

3_5doughnuts
blog.foodfacts.com wants to make people more aware of what controversial food additives are being put into their foods. Today foodfacts.com looks into the controversial food additive Interesterified Fat. What is interesterified fat? Just as food manufacturers have started to remove them from their products, restaurants have been eliminating them from their menus, and government entities have begun to ban them, transfats have been replaced by a new kind of fat with a lengthy and unpronounceable name—INTERESTERIFIED FATS. While these fats may be interesting, the root word from which their name is derives is not INTEREST, but ESTER . Esters are organic compounds formed from an organic acid and an alcohol.

Interesterification
Interesterification is one of three main fat modification techniques. The other two techniques are fractionation and hydrogenation, which is the process used to produce transfats.

Interesterification is the process of rearranging the fatty acids in triglyceride molecules. Triglycerides form the basic structure of most fats and oils. They are composed of glycerol and three chains of fatty acids. Interesterified fats (IFs) are used in shortening for baked goods, fat for frying, in butter substitutes, such as soft margarine. The interesterification process maintains solid fat content at ambient temperatures while lowering the melting point of the fat.

Interestified Fat in Food
While consumers are being regularly informed by the food manufactures and restaurants that transfats are being removed from their menus, very little is being said about the fats that are replacing transfats. The class of interesterified fats provides one of the least expensive options for fats used in baking and frying. There are two types of interestification–one that uses chemical catalysts —usually metals or salts, and another that uses enzymic catalysts. Use of chemical catalysts is less expensive than use of enzymic catalysts, but the chemical catalysts require manufacturing steps to purify and deodorize the finished product.

Why should the consumer care about how fats are made? Interestingly, it appears that changing or re-arranging the molecules of fats or a combination of fats during the interesterification process may affect how the fats are metabolized in the human body. A recent joint study conducted in Malaysia and at Brandeis University indicated that not only did IFs depress beneficial HDL cholesterol, it appeared to raise blood glucose levels and decrease insulin production. Elevation of blood glucose and suppression of insulin production are precursors to diabetes. In addition, further elevation of blood glucose and reduction in insulin levels could be dangerous to those who are already have diabetes. Further studies are needed, but this study has raised real concerns about the use of IFs to replace transfats, especially if they are used widely and without the knowledge of consumers.