The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics applauds the Food and Drug Administration's efforts, announced November 7, to reduce partially hydrogenated oils in processed foods. PHOs are the primary dietary source of artificial trans fats, which have been proven to raise low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol, and increase people's risk of coronary heart disease.
"Scientific evidence has shown us that consumption of artificial trans fats through processed foods is a direct contributor to coronary heart disease, which often results in stroke and heart attack," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Dr. Glenna McCollum.
"The Academy supports the FDA's efforts to reduce the number of foods that contain these harmful fats, ultimately helping save the lives of thousands of people every year," McCollum said.
While there are some naturally occurring trans fats in animal foods, most of the trans fat in our food system is created through a process called hydrogenation. This process takes liquid fats (oils) and makes them more solid, increasing their shelf stability. The FDA's preliminary determination references only those foods that contain PHOs and not those in which trans fat occurs naturally in small amounts, like some meat and dairy products. Artificial trans fats are most often found in processed foods like margarine, frozen pizza, creamers, microwave popcorn and some desserts.
"As the FDA moves to its final determination, the Academy encourages everyone to follow the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by severely limiting their consumption of foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats and other solid fats, while eating more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, chicken and fish, whole grains and low-fat and fat-free dairy products," McCollum said.
According to the FDA, the consumption of trans fat in American diets has been significantly reduced. Since trans fat content information began appearing in the Nutrition Facts label of foods in 2006, trans fat intake among American consumers has declined from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to about 1 gram per day in 2012.
McCollum added additional tips to maintaining good heart health, including:
• Regular, moderate physical activity
• Reducing salt intake
• Regularly eating fatty fish like salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna (in water, if canned), mackerel and sardines
• Eating fewer foods with saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains.
"Consult a registered dietitian nutritionist who can help you build a heart-healthy nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle and needs," McCollum said.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics