Trans fats banned in California, doctors caution consumption

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Morgan Chesky - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - On January 1, 2009, California became the first state in the union to ban the use of trans fats in all restaurants. Doctors have long warned Americans about the dangers of eating food containing trans fats. Health experts say trans fats are a main contributor to the high rates of obesity and diabetes.

When shopping, read the label carefully. Just when you think you're being safe, by purchasing products advertised as healthy carb cutters, trans fats may still be there.

"If you see hydrogenated oils, you know that it's gonna have trans fat," said Tami Lawrence, a clinical dietician with the Trinity Mother Frances Health System.

The food label on a package of Mission Tortillas says that the product doesn't contain any trans fats. But, if you look closer, hydrogenated oil is on it's list of ingredients.

"If there is less than 0.5 grams per serving of saturated fat, the label does not have to specify that it contains trans fat," said Lawrence.

Sneaky, right? Trans fats are fats that have gone through the hydrogenation process. That's when liquid oils are converted to solid or semi-solid fats.

"You most likely will find these in margarine spreads," said Lawrence. "Some of your butter spreads, packaged goods like cakes, cookies, crackers, chips."

...and, especially in fried foods. McDonald's is one of several restaurant chains in the past few years to switch to cooking oils containing zero-trans-fat. Some say it's a comprise on taste. But, the change could save your life.

"Normally, we recommend that a person chooses canola oil or olive oil," said Lawrence, who also mentioned that eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

"Over 70% of people that have heart attacks - it's because they're overweight," said Lawrence. "A lot of that is due to the fact of too much fat in-take."

Just pay extra attention to the label, the next time you go shopping.

According to the American Heart Association, the consumption of trans fats also increases your risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

Another tip: if you're at a restaurant, before you order, you can always ask for a list of ingredients.

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