February 24, 2007

NOT eating trans fats might kill you!

How could not eating trans fats kill you?

For the past several years -- and now it's heated up with various banishments -- nutritionists have screamed, loud and clear, that trans fats are our biggest diet problem.


The entire debate about trans fats have taken our "eyes off the prize". Trans fats are bad, but just a tiny, tiny part of the problem. Most restaurants and food companies are simply substituting one bad fat for another big, bad fat. Supersized non-trans-fat french fries are still not going to be any better for you. And that's what is going to kill you. By removing trans fats, most Americans are going to think it's OK to eat more french fries, and fried chicken and gooey, extra-large muffins. And that's how not eating trans fats might kill you.

USA Today
points out some companies have removed trans fats, but added more calories and saturated fat to the product.

Kraft Foods has reportedly removed trans fats from Oreos, but in the process added 33% more saturated fat. (You can bet that McDonald's is not taking this opportunity to make its fried food any better.)

Today, trans fats account for less than 2.6% of the calories in Americans' diets. But saturated fats make up about 12%. So, RightSizing the problem means eating less fats...all of the fats, including trans fats, animal fats, even too much, olive oil fat can't be good for you. Trans fats have been "overemphasized when you consider the big picture," says Shelley Goldberg of the International Food Information Council. "My concern is as a registered dietitian is that with all this focus on trans fats, there's not enough focus on an overall healthful diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, as well as fish and vegetable oils."

Sheila Weiss of the National Restaurants Association, a trade organization, said, "We want to make sure we are moving toward a healthy alternative and not just getting a quick fix."

Goldberg worries that "if we make these changes too quickly, we may put something else in that we don't know the long-term effects of, and it might be worse."

Goldberg's concerns are coming true. Kraft could have figured out a way to make Oreos just a little more healthy, but instead, they now have added 33% more saturated fat. That's just one food, how many other foods are going to get worse for us?

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