PUBLISHER’S NOTE:Â We published this article a year ago, and in October 2014, studies showed that natural fats, such as butter are ultimately better for you than the artificial or modified fats. We’re not surprised.
After years of debate and study, the US Food and Drug Administration finally did something right; taking a first significant step toward potentially eliminating most trans fat from the nation’s food supply.
The FDA announced today it has made a preliminary determination that a major source of trans fats — partially hydrogenated oils — is no longer “generally recognized as safe.”
In reaction, our Publisher, long an advocate for a return to real foods, has removed all reference to margarine in our recipes.Â We are planning as well, to edit our recipes to remove shortening, though that is a much less frequently used product in our recipes.
Trans fat is found in many processed foods including desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizza, margarine and coffee creamer. It has long been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
Partially hydrogenated oil is created when hydrogen is added to liquid oils to make solid fats, like shortening and margarine. The process increases the shelf life and the flavor of foods. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, or shortening, was used in American kitchens as early as 1911 and has been a staple of Southern cuisine for generations.
McDonald’s and other fast food giants have removed trans fats from their cooking, and major cities, such as New York, have been at the forefront of cutting it from restaurant food preparation.
The FDA reports that trans fat intake among American consumers decreased from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to about a gram a day in 2012.Â Â Natural trans fat is usually found in small amounts in milk, butter, cheese, beef, lamb, pork, and chicken, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Research has suggested that naturally-occurring trans fat is not as harmful as artificial trans fat.
There is no safe level of consumption of trans fat. It has been shown to raise the “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol, thus placing millions of Americans at risk for heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other conditions.
While butter isn’t the best substitute, since it also contains considerable animal fat solids, in truth, clarified butter is better, combined with moderation and candidly, some exercise.Â Â And next time you say you can’t believe it’s not butter, remember, it isn’t!
So, get your fat can off that sofa, stop buying potato chips and start taking a walk every day!Â It couldn’t hurt you! Meanwhile, we’re avoiding the obvious trans fats, and so should you!
What is trans fat?
The majority of trans fat is formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oils, making them into solid fat such as shortening or margarine. It increases the shelf life and the flavor of foods.
Like saturated fat, trans fat and dietary cholesterol can also raise blood levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease.
Trans fat is found in processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Those include crackers, cookies, snack foods, fried foods and some baked goods. Other notorious food products include children’s milk mixes, packaged macaroni and cheese, theater pop-corn, and many cheaper candies, especially soft ones.
We recommend you read all food labels and avoid foods containing trans fats or partially hydrogenated anything!