By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
April 26, 2017
- Cutting trans fats saves lives
- Taking a look at the upcoming trans fat ban
- How to ensure your food is safe from deadly fats
When everyone stopped eating saturated fats and started eating “no saturated fat” foods containing trans fats, it was a monumental disaster.
These fats are deadly. They create high levels of inflammation, lower healthy HDL levels, impair endothelial function and may worsen insulin sensitivity. This makes trans fats a lethal enemy to your cardiovascular health.
But guess what happened when some New York counties banned trans fats from restaurants and other eateries?
Over the following years, people living in the restricted areas had fewer trips to the hospital for heart attack or stroke when compared to areas without the ban. In total, this amounted to a 6.2% decline in hospitalizations for stroke and heart attack.
Now, keep in mind that these results came solely from eliminating trans fats in restaurants, pizza joints and other places you would order cooked food. It didn’t include all of the cookies, popcorn, crackers and so forth that are found on grocery store shelves.
So I’d say this is a win. And it reinforces the FDA’s decision to ban trans fats in food, which is set to go into effect next year. Still, I see some potential problems on the horizon.
What Does the Trans Fat Ban Mean for You?
In 2015, after decades of defending trans fats, the FDA finally came to the conclusion that they are “not generally recognized as safe”. At the time of this announcement, the FDA gave food manufacturer’s three years phase out their use. This means the transition should be complete sometime in 2018.
But does it mean you’re safe from trans fats?
You see, under current regulations the FDA allows foods that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving to list them as 0 (zero) on the label. If you eat three or four foods a day that contain .49 grams of trans fat, it can really add up.
I haven’t seen anything yet that indicates this regulation will go away. But even if it does, there’s still another caveat.
It turns out that companies can petition the FDA to permit them to continue using trans fats in their products. And if the pharmaceutical industry is any example of how the FDA works, we all know how that might turn out. (i.e., deep pockets seem go a long way when it comes to gaining approval from this regulatory agency.)
Plus, if you’re anything like me, you probably want to know what’s being used to replace these unhealthy trans fats with. Will it be any healthier? Or will it be even worse?
How to Ensure Your Food is Safe from Deadly Fats
The experiment in New York offers evidence that eliminating trans fats can be effective at lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke.
At the same time, getting rid of other harmful oils, processed foods and those that contain excess sugar, salt and unhealthy fats can also enhance your cardiovascular health.
With this in mind, the first piece of advice I have to offer is to read your labels.
If you see the words “hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated” on the ingredient list, it’s a sure thing the product contains trans fats. You also want to check out other ingredients to ensure you’re not loading up on sodium, sugar and other unhealthy substances that can damage your heart.
My second piece of advice is even more relevant. Don’t bother buying foods with labels on them in the first place!
When you stick to the produce, fish and meat departments at the store, the only thing you need to be concerned about is buying organic, wild-caught, grass-fed and pasture-raised products. This makes life much simpler… and much healthier.
Ban on trans fats in diet may reduce heart attacks and stroke. News Release. Yale University. Apr 2017.
Mozaffarian D, et al. “Health effects of trans-fatty acids: experimental and observational evidence.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;63 Suppl 2:S5-21.
de Roos NM, et al. Replacement of dietary saturated fatty acids by trans fatty acids lowers serum HDL cholesterol and impairs endothelial function in healthy men and women. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2001 Jul;21(7):1233-7.