Story by: Patrick Donovan on July 23, 2018
Goodbye. Adiós. Au revoir. Sayonara. No matter how you say it, this is what all countries may soon be saying to trans fats.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is on a mission to globally eliminate industrially produced trans fats from foods by 2023. They released a plan called REPLACE, which provides insight into how governments worldwide can ban arguably the worst offender of food additives.
Trans fat is short for trans-fatty acid. This type of fat comes from two places: It is contained in small amounts in some meat and dairy products. And it comes from an industrial process in which hydrogen is added to vegetable oil — called hydrogenated oil. This solid form of oil helps food last longer before it spoils.
“Trans fat raises bad cholesterol (LDL), lowers good cholesterol (HDL) and causes plaque to form in the vessel walls,” said Amy Pierce, APRN, nurse practitioner with the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute. “This can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.”
WHO estimates that every year, trans fat intake leads to more than half a million deaths from heart disease. The elimination of trans fat globally is very feasible, according to Pierce. It will require the cooperation of food processing companies, who have been responsive so far. The end result will be a world with less obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
In the United States, some progress has been made in banning trans fats. In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared trans fat to be unsafe in foods. The FDA set an original date of June 18, 2018, for manufacturers to stop adding this harmful component to food. They have since extended the compliance deadline to Jan. 1, 2020.
Here are a few tips from Jennifer O. Kyser, licensed and registered dietitian with Norton Weight Management Services, on how to avoid trans fats:
Working with a provider to know your blood sugar (glucose), triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure numbers can help you keep an eye on your health.
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