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Trans Fats

Trans fats cause the early deaths of thousands of people a year in the Uk alone. They are stealth killers found in hydrogenated vegetable oil and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, also many common ingredients in thousands of food products.

The Harvard School of Public Health has said the at least 30,000, and more like 100,000 people die prematurely every year in the USA because of coronary heart disease, which is a result of eating trans fats. If a similar proportion of British people are dying every year from trans fats that means that some 5,000 - 20,000 people could be dying as a result of trans fats, that is 15 to 60 people every day!

Trans fats are found in a wide range of foods, according to one estimate 40% of products in a typical US supermarket contain trans fats, and the UK is not far behind. Hydrogenated vegetable fats which provide most dietary trans fats are a mainstay of the food industry - an inexpensive bulking agent that is perfect for padding out expensive processed products, with a long shelf life and a luxurious 'mouth feel'.

They can also be found in margarine, vegetable shortening, puddings and pudding mixes, cakes & cake mixes, ice cream, ready-made pies, pizza, biscuits, crisps, doughnuts, fritters, artificial creamers, gravy & sauce mixes, confectionery and other processed foods, including foods marketed at children such as sugary cereals. They can also be found in fast food and other restaurant foods. if you repeatedly re-heat cooking oil you can produce your own trans fat. Because trans fats can be found naturally in ruminants' (cows stomachs) this means that they can also be found in meat and dairy produce. However the amounts are small and at the moment there is no firm evidence to suggest that these small amounts can be harmful to human health, unlike man-made trans fats found in hydrogenated vegetable oils.

When you are shopping always look at the ingredients before you buy, you are looking for in particular:

  • hydrogenated vegetable oil
  • partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
  • vegetable shortening
  • margarine

If you find any of these products listed then leave the product on the shelf.

A quote from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website,

"Consumers can know if a food contains trans fat by looking at the ingredient list on the food label. If the ingredients label has "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil", "hydrogenated vegetable oil," or "shortening," listed, the food contains trans fat. Because ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance, smaller amounts are present when the ingredient is close to the end of the list."

Next I will give you a list of foods that contain trans fats:

Cakes and Biscuits

Ready-made cakes, sweet biscuits and cake / cookie mixes contain lots of trans fats, a great majority of these products contain them, including brands such as Lyons, Cadbury, Mr Kipling, McVities, Fox's, Border Biscuits, Wagon Wheels...the list goes on!

Confectionery

There are many confectionery products on the market that contain trans fats. In many 'bars' including Mars, Twix, Milky Way, Tracker, Snickers, Picnic, Double Decker, Time Out and Fuse, contain hydrogenated vegetable oils. They are also added to chocolate in place of expensive cocoa butter. A common confectionery item that nearly always contains trans fats is Belgian' milk chocolates (various makes). They are also present in 'praline' and 'cream' fillings for chocolate. Also in Peanut M&M's and Rolos. Hydrogenated vegetable oils are widely used in 'cereal bars' of various makes, however not all makes, this contradicts the aim of these bars to promote a healthy, fit, dynamic image to those that associate with them.

Fast Food and Restaurants

In many prepared foods that are bought from a fast food outlet have trans fats in them. An example of this is that trans fats are found in frying oil, whether this be in you near by burger bar, fish and chip shop, or any other of your favourite outlet that uses frying oil. There may also be trans fat in shakes, ice cream, crackers, pies and other fast food products. Evidence from a survey done in Canada at high end restaurants also found trans fats to be widely present in batters, pastries and other dishes. This is probably the same as the UK. If you want to be safe just ask your waiter / waitress wether the restaurant uses hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in its cooking.

 

 

Organic Food Pages - Topics & Content

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Organic Food at Farmers Markets

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Organic Food Page 3:

Is organic food better for you?

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Organic Food Page 4:

Does organic food contain more nutrients?

Is organic food better for you?

With preventative medicine in mind, can organic food make a difference to our health?

Are there fewer additives in organic food?

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Organic Food Page 5:

Trans Fats

 

Organic Food Page 6:

Organic Food and your health

Organic Food and Animal Welfare

Organic Food and the Environment

Organic Food and your Kids


 

 

 

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