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FDA plans to phase out trans fats entirely

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has plans in motion to completely remove trans fats from foods, a move the agency noted could reduce the number of heart attacks each year by several thousand. The fats are responsible for many ill health effects, like raising low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, often referred to as "bad cholesterol." While the agency is working to remove the fat altogether, those with high rates of LDL on cholesterol tests should try to avoid the fats in the meantime.

FDA working to eliminate trans fats
In recent years, the FDA has required food manufacturers to show trans fat content on labels, but now the agency is working to ban the ingredient altogether, noted NBC News. The fats are often found in baked goods like pizza, cookies and donuts, and are said to be responsible for many cardiovascular issues in the U.S. by members of the FDA.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg noted in a press release about the ban that while Americans have been steadily consuming less of these fats, they "remain an area of significant public health concern." The agency has not stated a direct timetable for the ban and plans to slowly phase out the fats to give industries time to replace them. Many cities and states in the U.S. have already banned these fats, including New York City, where they were banned in 2007.

In the meantime, the agency noted that those who are working toward having better cholesterol results from blood tests should try to avoid the fats altogether by choosing foods with low or no tans fat.

Why are trans fats so bad for heart health?
Trans fats are often considered worse than others because they raise LDL cholesterol and lower high-density lipoprotein, or "good cholesterol," levels. Lab tests show that HDL cholesterol can combat the negative effects of LDL cholesterol by removing it from arteries where it may cause clogs that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Since the fats can have double the negative effects on the body as other types, they are also more dangerous to consume, noted the Mayo Clinic.

Scientists believe that the process of creating trans fats may be what makes these fats so unhealthy. Trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, which makes it less likely to spoil. While this gives the oil a longer shelf life, it may change how it is recognized by the body.

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