Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

The Good Oil on Bad Fats; Scientists Say the Consumption of These Chemically Altered Nasty Fatty Acids Should Be Kept to a Minimum

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

The Good Oil on Bad Fats; Scientists Say the Consumption of These Chemically Altered Nasty Fatty Acids Should Be Kept to a Minimum

Article excerpt

Lesley MacDonald-Wicks

Senior Lecturer, University of Newcastle

WHEN you buy commercially baked goods such as pies, pastries, cakes and biscuits, it's likely they'll contain one of the nastier types of fatty acids: trans fats.

These unsaturated fats have been chemically altered to give them a longer shelf life and withstand repeated re-heating.

Trans fats are produced through hydrogenation, a manufacturing process where hydrogen is added into the fatty acid structure of fats. This stabilises the oil, allowing it to remain solid at room temperature and to be turned into margarine and cooking fat.

Small amounts of trans fatty acids (trans fats) are found naturally in dairy and meat products.

How big a problem are trans fats?

The first artificially produced trans fats date back to the early 1900s, when a German chemist found a way to turn liquid oils into solid fats.

Initially trans fats were thought to be a healthy alternative to saturated fat, particularly after the 1950s, when alarms were raised about saturated fats.

But by the 1990s the evidence indicated otherwise. Trans fats were linked with elevated LDL (bad cholesterol) and reduced HDL (good cholesterol), leading to an increased risk of heart disease.

The World Health Organisation recommends less than 1% of a person's total energy intake be derived from trans fats.

Australia first measured dietary intake of trans fats in 2005 and found it accounted for an average of 0.6% of our total energy intake. A 2015 update clocked 0.5%.

The United States Food and Drug Administration estimated Americans' intake of trans fats in 2012 was 1g per person per day, or 0.5% total energy.

Phase-out in the US

The United States introduced mandatory labelling of trans fat content in foods in 2006. In June 2015, the FDA determined that partially hydrogenated oils were not "generally regarded as safe" for use in human food.

The evidence for the determination came from four large population-based studies that found trans fat increases the risk of heart disease. …

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