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Nutrition experts push trans fats ban - Say trans-fats are disastrous for your health.
05/25/04 12:08 PM

Nutrition experts push trans fats ban - Say trans-fats are disastrous for your health.

20/05/2004 A campaign is being launched to purge these molecules called trans-fatty acids, or "trans-fats" from the United States` cakes, snacks and fast foods.

Small quantities of trans-fats occur naturally in meats and dairy products, but most arrive in our stomachs through processed foods. They are manufactured by pumping hydrogen into vegetable oils to create partially hydrogenated oils and solid margarines.

Such fats are preferred by industry because they are versatile and last longer. But nutrition experts say trans-fats are disastrous for your health. Whereas saturated fats raise both `bad` low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and `good` high density lipoproteins (HDL), trans-fats boost LDL without affecting HDL, increasing the risk of heart disease.

Nutritional guidelines have long advocated cutting back on the saturated fatty acids found in meat and dairy products, and boosting unsaturated fats abundant in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.

But trans-fats have taken longer to attract attention because their effects on health were less clear.

Evidence for the harmful effects of trans-fats has mounted, however. In 2002, a US expert committee charged with making nutritional recommendations concluded that there was no level of trans-fats in the diet that could be deemed safe.

A US nutritional group called the Center for Science in the Public Interest, based in Washington DC, now hopes that its TransFreeAmerica campaign will raise awareness of the health concerns. It is urging food manufacturers to eliminate trans-fats and advising consumers to boycott foods containing them. It is also calling on the US Food and Drug Administration to outlaw partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

The plan is likely to meet resistance from some food industry members reluctant to change existing supply and production processes, predicts Turner. "It`s difficult to think we would ever get completely trans-fat free," she says.

Some countries and companies have already made moves to cut trans-fats. In 2003, the Danish government issued regulations slashing the amount allowed in foods.

In the United States, some food manufacturers such as Kraft Foods and McCain are scaling back the amount of trans-fats in their products. And from 2006, food companies will be required to list the amount of trans-fat on nutrition labels, so that consumers can choose what to buy.

The new campaign, "may accelerate the rate at which the industry moves," says nutrition expert Alice Lichtenstein of Tufts University in Boston. But it is important that trans-fats are replaced with healthy alternatives, she points out, such as plant oils rather than butter.


http://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/newsmaker_article.asp?idNewsMaker=5737&fSite=AO545

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