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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Banning Trans Fats Saves Lives

Nov 07, 2010 11:21PM

Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats are not natural, and therefore have no role in terms of nutrition. Rather, they are partially hydrogenated oils created by manufacturers that can harm health by lowering levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, while raising those of LDL (bad) cholesterol. They are known to play a role in increasing the risk for coronary heart disease and some chronic illnesses.

According to the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, five major fast food chains have now significantly decreased the use of oils containing trans fats to cook their food, responding to health concerns from the public. But, is it enough? A recent report published in the British Medical Journal states that banning trans fats from all foods in the UK would prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths every year, stressing that it would be a simple way to protect consumers from chronic disease.

While the amount of trans fats must be clearly stated in labels on packaged food items in the United States, restaurants are not mandated to disclose it. Given the frequency with which Americans eat out, trans fats should be of constant concern.

Good steps to take include carefully choosing places to dine out and making it a special occasion, rather than a regular occurrence. Read labels on groceries and lobby government representatives to ban the use of trans fats from all foods; these are, after all, classified as toxic by the World Health Organization.

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