Why the fuss?

The Trans fat , they were seen as harmless additives that are used in everything from cupcakes to french fries, but they are finally getting the reputation they deserve: bad for the Health .

For years, the FDA has tagged the Trans fat as "generally recognized as safe", a term that applies to substances added to food that experts consider safe, and can thus be used without proof or approval.

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The FDA proposed the elimination of Trans fat from the list generally recognized as safe, a step that could eliminate them in the United States food supply.

The decision is like a victory for doctor Walter Willett and his colleagues in the Harvard School of Public Health , which have long highlighted the health damage of trans fats.

Research into the health hazards of trans fats goes back four decades. In the 2001 book, eating, drinking and living healthy, Dr. Willett writes that "only one type of fat in the diet is worse for you than trans saturated fats, increasingly common."

Since then, the communities from Tiburón, in California to the city of New York, prohibited the use of Trans fat . Many companies have already eliminated trans fats from their products. The proposal of the FDA , could accelerate this process.


Why the fuss?

The Trans fat They are a type of unsaturated fat. Think of them as the evil cousins ​​of healthy omega-3 fats in fish, flax seeds and nuts.

Once upon a time, the only sources of trans fats were bacteria that live in the belly of ruminants. As a result, beef, lamb, buffalo, deer, and dairy products have small amounts of trans fat.

However, at the end of the twentieth century, they were everywhere, thanks to the ingenuity of chemists at the beginning of this century who discovered that they could turn a liquid vegetable oil into a solid or semi-solid. Partially hydrogenated oils do not spoil or become rancid as readily as non-hydrogenated fats and can withstand heating and without decomposition.

These characteristics make trans fats a workhorse of the food industry. The FDA has estimated that by the end of 1990, 95% of prepared cookies, 100% of cookies, and 80% of frozen products contain trans fat. Frying oils used in restaurants were also rich in them.

The problem for us is that trans fats are harmful to the heart and the rest of the body. Eating them increases LDL (bad) cholesterol, which is very damaging to the arteries.

Trans fats have unhealthy effects on triglycerides; they make platelets stickier than usual and therefore more prone to form clots that clog arteries in the heart, brain and other parts; They promote inflammation, which plays a key role in the development of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

In the study published in theNew England Journal of Medicine, Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that eliminating trans fats from the US food supply would prevent between 72,000 and 228,000 heart attacks annually.

The FDA proposal to reclassify trans fats is a measure that should have little impact on what we eat, since food companies have successfully found healthy alternatives. However, it could have a beneficial impact on our health. And you, how many products do you eat with trans fats?

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