A week or two ago we wrote a post complaining that Tofutti uses partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fats) in their cream cheese alternative. I was expressing some frustration that Tofutti does make a version of the cream cheese without the trans fats, but the one that is most easily found contains trans fats (something we try to avoid at all costs). We received a few e-mails questioning why this is so bad. So here's a brief tutorial...
Partially hydrogenated oils = trans fats.
Trans fats = bad. Bad enough, in fact, for New York City to ban the use of them in restaurant foods as early as December 2006 (the first city in the US to do so). Seattle and Boston have jumped on the bandwagon this year as well. Not to be outdone, California banned the use of trans fats in restaurant food in July, the first state to do so. It isn't a smooth transition. Many vendors are complaining. Trans fats are easier to use, stable longer, and cheaper. But they are one of the most unhealthy things you can consume.
Why are trans fats bad? Trans fats are bad for your heart.
Tans fats have also been found in scientific studies to lower high-density lipoproteins, the “good” cholesterol, while increasing low-density lipoproteins, the “bad” cholesterol, high levels of which contribute to the onset of heart disease, the leading cause of death in California and the nation. Dr. Clyde Yancy, incoming president of the American Heart Association, said a 2 percent increase in trans-fat intake could result over time in a 25 percent increase in the likelihood of developing coronary artery disease.
Source: The New York Times
The AMA came out with a policy today to support any state or federal effort to ban the use of trans fats in restaurants and bakeries. (They're also against texting and driving, saying texting increased the amount of time your eyes are off the road by 400%. Yikes! DON'T TEXT AND DRIVE PEOPLE!!!)
According to AMA board member Dr. Mary Anne McCaffree, "Trans fats have been proven to raise LDL (low density lipoprotein), the bad cholesterol, while lowering HDL (high density lipoprotein), the good cholesterol, which significantly increases the risk for heart disease."
According to the comprehensive Nurses' Health Study -- the largest investigation of women and chronic disease -- trans fats double the risk of heart disease in women.
Source: Trans Fats 101 - University of Maryland Medicine
As Maija commented, it's likely that trans fats will be banned in the next few years, at least in the western world. So why not get a head start... When you're in the grocery store check your product labels for Trans Fats. They should read 0 grams. If they don't, you should look for a healthier alternative.
For further reading:
- Trans Fats 101 - University of Maryland Medicine
- Trans Fats: Avoid This Cholesterol Double Whammy - Mayo Clinic
- The Nutrition Source: Fats and Cholesterol - Harvard School of Public Health (read section on "Very Bad Fats")
- Why Hydrogenated Oils Should Be Avoided at Any Cost - Natural News