As you know by now, trans fat is finally getting kicked to the curb. Trans fat, a packaged food additive also known as partially hydrogenated oil, is added to food for its preservative quality and contributes to artery clogging and cardiovascular disease. The FDA’s proposed ban hopes to prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease and 20,000 deaths from heart attack per year.
Over the next 50 or so days, the FDA will be pouring over scientific data to determine if trans fat needs to be removed from the GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe,” list of foods. If trans fat are indeed determined to not be GRAS, any food product with trans fat will be deemed illegal for sale in the U.S. Under current guidelines, if a food product contains less than 0.5 grams trans fat, shown as partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredients list, the nutrition label can claim it has 0 percent. Sketchy stuff.
Trans fat won’t disappear completely, as it naturally occurs in some dairy and meat products. But the artificial stuff—created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil—is lurking in many of the popular food items on grocery store shelves. Peanut butter, popcorn, and frozen foods are the more well known products that contain trans fat, but those are just the tip of this fatty iceberg. Soon, trans fat will be banished from the supermarket, but until then, we’ve compiled a list of the trans fattiest foods at your local grocer.
Betty Crocker Bisquick and Canned Frosting
- Kellogg’s: Corn Pops, Eggo Cereal, Honey Smacks, Smorz, Mini Swirlz Cinammon Bun, Rice Crispies Cereal
- General Mills: Basic 4
- Post: Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles, Oreo Os, Waffle Crisp
Coffee Mate Coffee Creamer (Multiple Flavors)
Duncan Hines Cake and Cupcake Mixes
Nabisco Fig Newtons
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The FDA is finally stepping up to remove trans fat from a list of chemicals known as GRAS – or generally recognized as safe. This morning, the Food and Drug Administration opened up a 60-day public call for comments, scientific data, and other information they can use to help guide their decision to issue an all-out ban on trans fat, also known as partially hydrogenated oil.
“Based on new scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels, the [FDA] has tentatively determined that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are the primary dietary source of industrially-produced trans fatty acids, or trans fat, are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for any use in food based on current scientific evidence establishing the health risks associated with the consumption of trans fat, and therefore that PHOs are food additives,” says the formal announcement made by the agency.
If this is finalized, the FDA says “food manufacturers would no longer be permitted to sell PHOs.”
That’s news that has the dietetic community happy as heart-healthy clams. We reached out to several thought leaders from the dietetic community to hear their reactions to the trans fat ban news first.
Those foods are suspect, not only because of the link between trans fats and cardiovascular disease, but because of wide-reaching inflammation from a host of artificial products. This could give people a reminder to eat real food. — Mary Hartley, RD, our resident nutrition expert and a NYC-based dietitian
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The FDA has announced that partially hydrogenated oil—aka trans fat—has been deemed unsafe for use in our food, and proposes it be banned completely.
Our resident nutrition expert, Mary Hartley, RD said “Good riddance to those greasy foods! Canned frosting? Stick margarine? Fake frozen treats? Gross. Those foods are suspect, not only because of the link between trans fats and cardiovascular disease, but because of wide-reaching inflammation from a host of artificial products. This could give people a reminder to eat real food.”
Artificial trans fat—an artery clogging substance responsible for the rise of heart disease in America—is created when big food manufacturers create solid fats from liquid oils.
For the next 60 days, the general public is encouraged to comment on the proposal, and food manufacturers will have the tough task of finding scientific evidence proving trans fat is safe for use in our food.
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If you haven’t noticed, The Girl Scouts have hit the streets with their cookies this month. They’ve opted for a throwback twist this year as many girls are pulling wagons with cookies ready to deliver on the spot. It may become their biggest sales year yet. Cookies on demand, at your door? Pretty tough to say no to a Thin Mint when it’s literally in your face. Unless of course, you’ve been reading more about what’s actually in those cookies. That may scare you off of Carmel Delights for life.
But, what about the girls’ counterparts? The Boy Scouts sell popcorn every fall. Is their product any better? They are, after all, selling corn, the biggest genetically modified (GM) crop in this country. And the law states no one has to label whether or not a product contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs). And if you search a package of Boy Scout Popcorn, the Trails End Brand, you’ll see no mention of GMOs on the labels. Are our girls getting an unfair rap? Are the boys being just as irresponsible with what they’re selling to the public?
It appears not, at least on the GMO front. Elizabeth Weaver works with Weaver Popcorn Company, Inc. They are the distributor and producer of Trails End Popcorn, the exclusive Boy Scout brand. Weaver explained what’s in the popcorn and why the packages do not indicate that the snack is GMO free.
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By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist for TheBestLife.com
French fries, cola, cocktails—in a perfect world, you’d be able to eat these foods even while trying to lose weight. It’s all about moderation, of course…but moderation is easier said than done. After all, who can stop at just seven fries or six ounces of soda?
I’ve found that it can be helpful to go the other direction—ban problem foods, at least for a while (Bob Greene recommends four weeks on his weight loss website TheBestLife.com). Doing so trains down your tastes, helps curb cravings, and teaches you to enjoy more healthful alternatives while cutting calories. Bob chose the foods below because they’re so universally problematic, but you can substitute your own particular problem foods.
After you’ve had a few (or even one), your resolve to eat well can start to waver. And don’t forget about the calories: Wine is about twice as caloric as soft drinks, while an 8-ounce margarita can contain a whopping 535 calories. (For more on how alcohol can interfere with weight loss, click here.)
Have instead: Sparkling water with a twist of lime
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