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Nutritionists: Trans Fat Ban Good for Heart Health

They urge greater use of healthier oils, like canola oil or other vegetable oils, in food-making process


Trans fats, which are man-made, shouldn't be confused saturated fats or unsaturated fats.

Saturated fats are considered "bad" fats because they increase your "bad" cholesterol levels, which can cause artery-blocking plaques. Unsaturated fats are considered "good" fats because they increase your levels of "good" cholesterol, a type of cholesterol that actually helps carry away the "bad" cholesterol and prevent plaques.

The use of trans fats has decreased as public knowledge of their health risks increased. New York City banned trans fats in restaurants in 2006. And studies have found that fast-food chains like McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's have significantly decreased the amount of trans fats used in their french fries.

Food manufacturers also have been limiting the use of trans fats, most notably since the FDA required in 2006 that trans fats be listed on the Nutrition Facts labels placed on nearly all food products.

"As a result of that decision, we have greatly reduced trans fats in the food supply," said Kris-Etherton. "Consumers have become more health- conscious and that has not worked well for the trans fats industry."

The move away from trans fats already has been reflected in the diet of the average American. Trans fat intake has declined per person from 4.6 grams per day in 2006 to about one gram a day in 2012. Levels of trans fatty acids in the blood of white adults in the United States declined 58 percent between 2000 and 2009, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are some concerns moving forward, mostly related to what food manufacturers will use as a substitute for trans fats.

"What I wouldn't want the food industry to do is go back to butter, because saturated fats have health risks as well," Kirkpatrick said.

People also shouldn't assume that a trans fat-free food automatically will be good for them.

"If you remove the trans fats from a cookie loaded with sugar, you still have a cookie loaded with sugar," Kirkpatrick said.


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