Conservative Heart Association Edges Closer to Trans Fat Ban

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July 08, 2006 | 6,588 views

The American Heart Association has issued new dietary and lifestyle recommendations intended for healthy Americans ages 2 and older.

For the first time, the guidelines include a limit for harmful trans fats -- which the Association says should make up less than 1 percent of total calories.

The recommendations, which replace those issued in 2000, were compiled by a panel of nutrition and heart disease specialists who reviewed over 90 studies. Key changes include an emphasis on combining healthy eating, such as cooking with healthier oils, with adequate physical activity.

They also mention that simply reducing fat in the diet is not all that counts; the type of fat is also important. The American Heart Association guidelines include:  

  • Further reducing saturated and trans fatty acids -- commonly found in commercially baked and fried foods, including crackers, French fries, cakes, pies, bread and cookies -- in the diet

  • Minimizing the intake of food and beverages with added sugars

  • Emphasizing physical activity -- at least a half-hour per day -- and weight control

  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole-grain foods

  • Avoiding use of and exposure to tobacco products

  • Achieving and maintaining healthy cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels

  • The American Heart Association (AHA) is one of the most conservative health organizations that is committed to the prevention of heart disease. They publish the journal Circulation, which is one of the most prestigious heart journals in the world.

    About 10 years ago they actually endorsed fish oils as beneficial for the prevention of heart disease

    Now they are taking another giant step and publicly recognizing and stating that trans fats are dangerous and need to be avoided. This is good because many experts have long contended that there is no safe level of trans fatTrans fat has also been shown to make you gain weight. 

    Unfortunately, nearly all health professionals believe that saturated fat is not good for you and is a major cause of health problems. What they fail to realize is that the real dangerous fats are trans fats.

    An excellent review on this topic showing the importance of saturated fats for human nutrition was published two years ago in one of my favorite journals. 

    So the first step to take when addressing trans fat is to recognize that this is the fat that needs to be excluded from your diet -- NOT saturated fats.

    Earlier this year the United States mandated labeling requirements on trans fats, but they left a GIANT loophole in the law that is confusing millions of Americans.

    What is the Loophole?

    If one serving has less than 500 mg (one-half gram) of trans fat the product can legally state that it is trans-fat free.

    While 1/2 gram may not seem like much, many of these serving sizes are artificially reduced so the typical person can easily consume four to 10 servings a day of these fats. That would put them at two to five grams of trans fats a day.

    Assuming most people consume less than 2,000 calories a day that would put them at 1-2 percent of their diet made up of trans fat, which is ABOVE the threshold recommended by the AHA.

    So How do You Win?

    You can avoid trans fat by resorting to the old methods we used prior to the new labels. If the product lists hydrogenated oil on the label then it has trans fats -- end of story. No way around it.

    The only thing you can be confident of is that if no trans fats are listed on the label then it is less than 500 mg PER serving.

    So don't let them fool you anymore. You now know the truth and can beat them at the deceptive game they are playing.


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