Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Trans fat free...for good!

It's official. The NYC Health Department's ban on the use of trans fats in restaurants takes effect as of today, July 1. Say sayonara to pastries, frozen and fried foods, cookies, chips and more that formerly were made with with artery-clogging trans-fats (aka 'partially hydrogenated vegetable oils'). Trans fats increase the shelf-life and stability of products (think of the life-span of a Twinkie!). Unfortunately, these uber-saturated fats also increase our LDL "bad" cholesterol and have been shown to lower HDL "good" cholesterol, posing a pretty big threat to heart health. Products laden with trans-fats are also often laden with excess calories which doesn't bode well for those sassy new white jeans you just purchased for summer.

Restaurants seem to be taking the big switch in stride, successfully scouting out butter, oils and shortenings that aren't hydrogenated...without impacting the taste and flavor of stand-by recipes. NYC's Health Dept has gone as far as creating a Trans Fat Help Center to aid restaurants in finding healthier cooking substitutes. It seems that other cities are following New York's lead...Boston, Seattle and Philly are also looking to declare bans.

All in all, the change over won't have a great impact on you as far as flavor and your fave foods in restaurants. But at least you can rest assured that your health is in slightly better hands. And like with everything, moderation is the key. A tiny bit of really good, REAL butter goes a long way!

Check out this chart published last week in the NY Times showcasing where Americans are getting their trans-fats from...

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