Trans fats in french fries


What are Trans Fats?

January 1st 2006 is the day that the new Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) regulation goes into effect regarding trans fats. Wondering what this new regulation is? Well, if you haven't heard, the FDA regulation requires that information about trans fats be included on all food labels under Nutrition Facts.

Trans fats also called trans fatty acids and hydrogenated oils and fats were first used about 20 years ago. They were developed by the food manufacturing industry to prolong the shelf life (what else is new?) of processed foods such as potato chips, crackers, donuts, and cookies (think snack foods).

Simply put, trans fats are oils that have been hydrogenated, that is, hydrogen gas interacts with oils under pressure conditions to produce an "artificial" oil or fat. In anticipation of the new regulation, many processed food manufacturers have already removed trans fats or significantly reduced them.

Trans fats have been shown to clog arteries and increase the risk of heart disease such as heart attacks and strokes for both men and women. Trans fats are even worse for you health-wise than the saturated fats found in meat and dairy products are.

Apparently Kellogg's (of Tony the Tiger fame) has developed a soy alternative. Being an opponent of soy in the diet, I'm not really sure I like that alternative any better. Here's another reason to dislike it. The soybean oil, which reduces the need for hydrogenation, is called Vistive a soybean oil that is made by pro-GMO giant Monsanto Company. GMO standing for genetically modified organisms (see this post about genetically modified rice for more information) of course.

The good news is that more foods will be trans fat free. The bad news, for my children at least, is that Tony the Tiger won't be visiting my house anytime soon.

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