We will soon be saying “hasta la vista, Baby” to trans fats. Because banning these dangerous fats could cut deaths in the United States by 27,000 per year, the FDA says they’re moving to banish trans fats from store shelves completely in a slow phase-out that as of yet has no set timeline. The FDA is looking toward public reaction before developing a concrete plan for eliminating these bad fats from the American diet.
Trans fats are bad for us because they raise bad cholesterol, also known as LDL, and increase our risk for heart disease. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a public health organization, says that trans fats are a major health hazard. Their executive director, Michael Jacobson, explained, “Artificial trans fat is a uniquely powerful promoter of heart disease, and today’s announcement will hasten its eventual disappearance from the food supply.”
Trans fats currently occur in some highly processed foods like margarine, frozen pizza, crackers, popcorn, frosting, cookies, biscuits and more. They are artificially created and tend to clog up the arteries like sludge in a car’s engine.
Cleveland Clinic researcher cardiologist Dr. David Frid, says that because the risk from trans fats is so high, the benefits of cutting them out completely outweigh any sacrifice of the flavor and texture they deliver to food. “This move by the FDA has the potential to decrease the percentage of Americans who get heart disease while having very little effect on the individual’s lifestyle,” he said.
But will Americans want to say hasta la vista, Baby to trans fats? After all, trans fats are delicious. It could be a tough sell to the American public, which has grown to develop a major taste for overly rich foods in enormous portions. Will Brie cheese taste as good on a cracker that’s not loaded with trans fats?
And what about our doughnuts? Doughnuts are packed with the artery-clogging goo and yet the same substance that makes them have that decadent mouth feel is also responsible for making them light and airy, especially when trans fats are added to pastries like airy French crullers. Not the ones at Dunkin Donuts, though; the chain banned trans fats six years ago. Trans fats are also banned entirely in the state of New York.
In the last ten years, Americans have been voluntarily reducing the amount of trans fats they consume. In 2o03 we were scarfing down a huge amount: four grams every day. Now, though, we’ve been successful in drastically reducing that amount and only eat one gram of the delicious but dangerous substance per day.
While the FDA has yet to firm up a definite timeline, the suggested time period being discussed is six months. The FDA is forcing us to say hasta la vista, Baby, to trans fats. How will the American public react? Will there be a public outcry over too much government intervention or will there be relief at the huge number of lives saved? It may just depend on whether or not a person has been directly affected by heart disease whether they have experienced it themselves or via a loved one. Many feel that in the end, good health trumps everything.
By: Rebecca Savastio