Friday, August 31, 2012

Trans fats - beyond the nutrition facts panel

   A recent post regarding trans fats and how to read the Nutrition Facts Panel has become quite popular.  The purpose of using the NFP in that example was to identify if a food was high or low in trans fats.  The reasons why this is important is detailed there
   An important point that I failed to mention was that a company can legally list a product as having 0 grams of trans fat per serving if that serving size (determined by the manufacturer) has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat.  
   Let me explain why this matters.  If in your day you choose several food products which you think have no trans fat, but which have 0.4 grams each, then you can consume more than 1 gram of trans fat without even realizing it.  Health and nutrition experts tell us to avoid trans fat altogether if possible, but to keep it under 1 gram per WEEK.  Another way that the less than 0.5 per grams can add up is if the posted serving size is e.g 1/2 a cup (and has 0.3 grams) and you actually eat 1 cup - which would have nearly a full gram.  Remember, unlike saturated fat, trans fat has no level that is considered safe.
   In order to protect yourself from this trickery, an extra label step is required of you.  I am including another picture below to demonstrate.  You will see that the ingredients listed include hydrogenated oils.  If you see partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO) or hydrogenated vegetable oils, you are consuming a product which DOES have trans fat.  The terms are used interchangeably.  [to be clear, fully hydrogenated oils do NOT have trans fat but do not mistake hydrogenated for fully hydrogenated].
   In a Medscape article written by a physician for physicians, doctors were urged to counsel their patients (you guys) on both saturated and trans fats.  It was suggested that patients replace most of their saturated fat (red meat, butter, full fat dairy) with mono unsaturated and poly unsaturated fats/oils.  We have already discussed this previously. Doctors were told to have the patients stay clear of trans fats.  The reasons for this are that they have a role in promoting heart disease, stroke risk and diabetes.
   Now my label is very important and covers two important points.  The first is the hidden trans fats, but the second is the misleading promotion of the product.  Planters is calling this line of products, Nut-trition.  I have only reviewed the peanut butter, but as you will see it has added sugar, salt and oil (not the healthy product they are "selling").  Again, an all natural peanut butter contains only one thing, Peanuts (and somtimes salt).

    Notice the hydrogenated vegetable oil as well as the addition of numerous other oils.  Peanut butter contains one of the healthiest oils we have - it is NOT solid at room temperature (peanut oil).  There is absolutely nothing to gain by adding more oils. Notice also that the sugar listed isn't naturally occurring sugar.  There is sugar from the fruit, but in addition the words sugar and syrup indicate added sugars.  This product has some amount of trans fats even though the NFP says 0g.

If you ever have a doubt about a product - go to Whole Foods and see if you can find it there.  They do not sell any items with artificial trans fats.

The Medscape article I referred to was written by Jonathan Berz, MD

For those of you in the US, have a nice Labor Day weekend - I am toiling over my studies and will be back in a few days.

1 comment:

Hamilton Dietetics said...

Nice! I only recently checked out your blog, but have enjoyed the post and will be back to read more.