How the Trans Fat Ban Will Affect Your Grocery List


hIn June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that artificial trans fats will be banned from food products by 2018. Three years from now, when the ban is fully enacted, it will still be acceptable to sell foods that have trans fats which occur naturally (think: meats and cheeses), but for foods in which it does not, trans fat will need to be removed.

The future trans fat ban expects to improve the health of numerous Americans and save lives by cutting out one of the largest contributors to heart disease in the country.

What is trans fat?

Trans fat can occur in foods naturally or artificially. When natural, trans fat tends to occur in far smaller doses than when produced artificially. Artificial trans fat, seen on food labels as “partially hydrogenated oils,” is made by making liquid vegetables oils into solid fats. Trans fat appears in so many food products because of the ease associated with its production and use, and it also lasts for a long time. Trans fat has a particular “taste and texture” that is desirable, particularly in the fast food industry, which frequently uses trans fats to fry foods.

Why is trans fat bad for my health?

Trans fat intake means bad news for cholesterol levels. We each have good cholesterol that we want to keep and bad cholesterol that we want to lower, and trans fat raises our bad cholesterol levels while lowering the good. As stated above, trans fat is a major contributor to heart disease, as well as stroke and type 2 diabetes. Heart disease and type 2 diabetes are especially prevalent in the United States, with someone in the country having a heart attack every 34 seconds and type 2 diabetes accounting for a higher risk of kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and other serious medical complications.

What will change for trans fats in 2018?

Even though the food industry has tried to cut down on trans fats in recent years, it will need to be fully eliminated from grocery shelves within the next three years. Here are some popular food products that still have trans fat in them but will need to change their ingredients by 2018:

  • Some frostings and cake mixes
  • Some salted crackers
  • Some snack cakes
  • Some frozen desserts: cakes, pies, etc.
  • Some margarine products
  • Some pancake/waffle mixes
  • Some frozen dinners, especially if fried before freezing
  • Some ice creams

Although trans fat is still a fairly popular ingredient for many beloved food products and fast food restaurants, these manufacturers and establishments still have three years left to make big changes. In the meantime, it’s always a good idea to review grocery store purchases and note just how much partially hydrogenated oil is in what you’re buying.

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