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Trans Fats Coming To A Food Label Near You

Armen Hareyan's picture

Nutritional information

Your favorite snacks contain new nutritional information in 2006, and reading it carefully could give your arteries a new lease on life. Starting this year, the Food and Drug Administration mandates that food manufacturers tell consumers how many trans fats are in the food they buy.

Studies have nothing positive to say about trans fats according to Angela Sheer, registered dietitian at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

"Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol - the bad cholesterol - and thereby increase one's risk for coronary heart disease," says Sheer.

Trans fats are formed when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils to improve shelf life. If a product ingredient is listed as "partially hydrogenated," that means that at least some trans fats are created in the product.

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According to Sheer, these fats are hard to avoid.

"Forty percent of what we find in our supermarkets are going to have some sort of these hydrogenated oils and it's typically those things like your cookies, your crackers and your stick margarines," says Sheer. "These are foods Americans often consume more portions of than they should."

Still, while the FDA's addition of trans fats to food labels pleases Sheer, she says it's not the only thing people should look at.

"I always say the best place to start on the food label is the calories," says Sheer. "Calories count and as we go through 2006, we'll probably see calories play a more prominent part on the food label."

While Sheer doesn't totally discourage people from eating cookies and chips, she preaches moderation of those foods with a balanced diet.