Friday, October 21, 2005

Tripping over Trans-Fats

Good Grief!

Do you have any idea how much of the edible oils in the United States are rich with trans-fats?

According to a Time article, "Target: Trans Fats," some 10-billion (yes, with a "B") pounds per year are consumed in the United States.

Some 85% of the roughly 19 billion lbs. of edible oils Americans consume each year comes from soy. About 10 billion lbs. of that soy oil gets hydrogenated, according to Mark Matlock, senior vice president of food research at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).

What's more disturbing, at least in my mind, is the small number of people who try to avoid them in their diet - The Hartman Group, a Bellevue, Wash., consultancy, has found that although a majority of consumers have heard about trans fats--mainly because of Joseph's Oreo lawsuit--only about 14% are likely to actively avoid them.

Considering how prevalent they really are in our food supply, many do perceive it to be difficult to avoid them - but isn't your health worth it?

And, avoiding them certainly does not leave you with a spartan diet with limited options as the article suggested!

Charlie Lousignont, an executive at Fazoli's restaurant chain, based in Lexington, Ky., which cut trans fats from most of its menu last April, points out that consumers tend to make choices based on taste, not virtue. "The ultimate food product," he says, "is low in calories, carbohydrates and sodium and has no trans fats. That leaves you with only a handful of things--like a carrot."

The first step to avoiding man-made trans-fats in your diet is simple - stop buying packaged processed foods that have
  • partially hydrogenated oils
  • margarine
  • shortening
  • mono-glycerides and di-glycerides (potential sources of trans-fatty acids) the list of ingredients! And do not use shortening made from partially hydrogenated oils or margarine in your cooking.

The next step is more difficult - avoid ordering or buying meals or side items that may be prepared with offending man-made trans-fats. Ask about how these foods are prepared and if there is an ingredients list you can review. The foods most often prepared with man-made trans-fats include:

  • Deep fried foods
  • Baked goods including breads
  • Cookies, cakes and pasteries - especially those with frosting
  • Vegetables and other sides that may have been prepared with stick margarine
  • Foods that rely on packaged ingredients that contain man-made trans-fats
  • Even sauteed foods like fish and chicken - ask, ask, ask what they use to sautee!

1 comment:

  1. Good entry--always good to ask, ask, ask, despite not wanting to come off as a pain in the butt! It's too bad so many food establishments use these products. If they'd only stick to good old butter...