“FDA Bans Hydrogenated Trans Fats”

14 11 2018

Be sure to eat healthy and get your daily walk exercise on. It does a body good.

Updated:  14 Nov 2018, Marc Woodard

In order to understand how unhealthy Trans Fats are it is necessary to first define and relate to them and how this unhealthy fat got into our food in the first place.  And why the FDA agrees it’s not fit for human consumption.

Hydrogenated Trans fats were invented in the 1890s.  What took the FDA so long to put a ban on the hydrogenation of vegetable oils?  And even with a ban does this keep Trans Fats out of our diet?

Much of the hydrogenated Trans Fat story has to do with low product cost and hyper palatable fat that addict consumers to purchase those products repeatedly. Which in turn generates huge profits for the food processing companies.  These basic facts explain the longevity of Trans Fats in the marketplace.

The FDA ban of trans fats occurred after decades of studying the effects of it on human health.

“Although saturated fat is the main dietary culprit that raises LDL (Low Density LipoProtein), added Trans Fat and dietary cholesterol also contribute significantly to increased LDL’s [which represent unhealthy blood chemistry and related cause to cardiovascular disease].  Trans fat can often be found in processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils such as vegetable shortenings, some margarines (especially margarines that are harder), crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, and baked goods (FDA 2017).”

In the past consumers sought low cost, tasty and convenient processed foods and praised the hydrogenation process because of cost and exceptional flavor. But now the FDA agrees with consumer safety advocates – banning this fat completely over the next few years would be best for consumer health and health care industry.

To learn why the FDA is now taking action it is necessary to define Trans Fats, hydrogenation, poly hydrogenated oil and how this man made fat causes disease.

Adding more hydrogen to oil is simply the process of man infusing more hydrogen atoms (hydrogenation) to a vegetable oil(s) mono-poly unsaturated fatty carbon molecule chain.  The vegetable oil than becomes a “Partially” or fully hydrogenated (fat saturated) “Trans Fat.”  i.e., Listed on food labels as Partial hydrogenated and/or Trans Fats are the same thing of varying atomic degree. 

But not obvious to most consumers…  through hydrogenation the oil becomes a more solid Trans hard fat that’s very unhealthy for us.  That is vegetable oils are artificially hardened to achieve “firm” convenience soft spreads with long shelf life e.g., margarine, cooking oils and shortening.

To identify Trans Fats in food products, manufacturers list these values on ingredient labels.  Note the words Partially Hydrogenated soybean Oil (PHO) on margarine and butter labels below.  This is code for Trans Fats. You can find PHO listed as an ingredient in many snack, dessert foods, vegetable oils and even health supplemental products, etc.   And when you see 0g Trans Fats on the label, food manufacturers are allowed up to .5grams Trans Fats per serving and can list this value as zero while simultaneously displaying PHO.

The good news for consumers as previously stated, the FDA now requires food manufactures to follow more stringent Trans Fat label laws.  For instance if a food product has .5g Trans Fats or more, that value has to be listed on the label (FDA 2017).

This means all Trans Fats in foods must be identified.  Even if the words Trans Fat equals 0 grams, the food product is allowed up to .499grams per serving when PHO is listed.  Many don’t know Trans Fats are also in organic wholefoods.  Ever wonder how they get into animal and vegetable products?

Live stock graze on vegetation which contain a certain amount of poly unsaturated oil in them.  Through animal grazing PHO’s (Poly Unsaturated Oil) are digested and some of this oil is stored in saturated fat cells.  Hence all products have varying amounts of naturally stored PHO or Trans Fats in them.  Just like humans.

Unlike organic dietary fats, hydrogenated Trans fats are not essential to the diet and significantly increase health risk when consuming too many of them.

I know conscientious consumers remove animal fat before eating a steak, or  ladle the fat from broth to reduce fat intake calories.  This is easy to do because it is easily seen.  However Tran’s fats blend into processed baked and convenience foods and can’t be seen or removed.  This is why it’s important to understand where Trans Fats come from and how to identify them in the foods eaten daily.   This knowledge becomes even more important if you now suffer from obesity, diabetes or heart disease.

Over consumption of fatty foods in general is bad.  But far worse when too many deceptive Trans-fats are mixed into baked goods.

In the past hydrogenation of cooking oils was used excessively by food industries until it was determined Tran’s fats were worse for you than natural occurring organic fats.  Early 2006, companies began removing the Trans fat hydrogenation processes from foods and labeling “0” amounts of Trans Fats as required by the FDA.  But as you now know “0” does not mean “0 Trans Fats and there a connection to organic food PHO chemistry.

In 2015 the “U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized its determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS for use in human food.  Food manufacturers will have three years to remove PHOs from products (FDA 2015).”

Even through the FDA recently determined Trans Fats are not safe for humans the end to manmade Trans Fats won’t end until 2017-18…  this will not ban all Trans Fats from all foods because of the natural occurring PHO found in livestock and plants.  But food manufacturers will be required to continue listing Trans Fats, mono-poly and saturated fat values.

Is this a win for everyone?  I guess it depends on individual and company perspective.

For the health conscious consumer and those suffering from obesity, diabetes and other related illness and disease these changes could be of great dietary health benefit.  For those on fixed and low incomes it may cost more and limit choice of healthy foods in the marketplace.  For a manufacturer it may increase the cost of doing business.  Unfortunately his increase in cost is usually passed onto the consumer.

There will be winners and losers no matter how you look at this thing.


US Department of Health and Human Resources. FDA Food and Drug Administration (FDA 2015-2017).

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2018 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

"Trans Fats Dangerous for Your Heath? Deceitfully Yes!"

23 04 2010

In order to understand why Trans Fats are bad for you, first we must define what a Tran’s fat is and how to identify it in products.  A Trans Fat is simply the process of “man” adding more hydrogen atoms (hydrogenation) to a vegetable oil(s) mono-poly unsaturated fat carbon molecule chains.  The vegetable oil than becomes a “Partially” or fully hydrogenated (fat saturated) “Trans Fat.”  You will note this as listed “one or the other” product tag ingredients:  Listed Partial hydrogenated and/or Trans Fats are the same thing to varying atomic degree although not obvious to most consumers.  Through hydrogenation the oil becomes a more solid consumable fat food by adding hydrogen atoms to vegetable oils.

Another way to put this; partially hydrogenated also means vegetable oils have added hydrogen atoms to the “organic dietary” mono-to-poly unsaturated fat chains turning them into soft “trans-unsaturated fats.  “I know this sounds complicated, but I will break it down further for you to where it actually makes sense.”  When these carbon chains are fully hydrogenated they become saturated “Tran’s hard fats.”  During hydrogenation vegetable oils are hardened to achieve “firm” soft spreads with long shelf life and great for baking, e.g., margarines and shortening, “but not so great for your health.”  As noted on margarine tubs and butter cubes you “now” see the words, “Trans Fat 0 grams” and on the ingredients of both products: “Partially Hydrogenated, Soybean Oil (Also means – partially converted to Trans Fats).”  The oil has been partially hydrogenated to achieve the desired soft spread and preserves the products life. 

Unlike other dietary fats, Trans fats are not essential to the diet and don’t promote good health.  This is because, science has found, unlike natural occurring saturated fats in animal and vegetable… The equivalent partial hydration (man-made) product is more akin to “dietary saturated fats!”  The best analogy I can come up with that you could relate when looking at total fat consumption per day and impact on health:  If you use a lot of “partially hydrogenated” margarine and shortening [instead of a vegetable oil for example] for daily baking, cooking, etc., this would be the equivalent of eating the fat off of beef and pork, or eating chicken skin, or lard disregarding good healthy eating habits.  I know most are conscious of eating too much animal fats and remove it from the meat, or ladle it from broth before consumption because you can see it.  Tran’s fats can’t be seen because it’s blended into the food you consume.  Those that consume too many Trans fats through baking, processed, fast foods tend to put on weight faster than if one just consumed dietary fats through organic vegetable and animal foods.

How does a dietary saturated fat differ from a “man-made” Trans-fat?  With a dietary saturated fat, these carbon atom chains are “naturally” filled with hydrogen atoms (high concentrations in animal products: Fatty cuts of meat, poultry skin, 2% dairy products, butter, cheese; Oils: Coconut, palm and palm kernel.  Our bodies need only about 20grams of these fats daily.  Too much of any saturated fat (more than 20 grams daily) may cause bad cholesterol (LDL) to rise.  This can increase blood pressure and predispose one to certain types of cancer and many other health risks.

Although over consumption of daily fat is bad, it’s worse by consuming deceptive Trans-fats (man-made) mixed into many processed and fast foods.  It appears almost everything in our food chain manipulated by man is worse for your health than if you were to consume dietary organic foods daily; with the exception of too many dietary fats, sugar and salt.  We know too much of these dietary foods daily in the diet are not good for us either.

In the past this hydrogenation process of our cooking oils was used extensively by the food industries until it was determined Tran’s fats were worse for you in the diet than dietary saturated fats!  Early 2006, companies began removing Trans fat hydrogenation processes from foods and labeling “0” amounts of Trans Fats in their products.  Beware that products with 1-2g or less Tran’s fat per serving can report zero grams on the product label!  If you see the words “partially hydrogenated” before the oil ingredient(s), you know it has “hydrogen” Trans Fats added to the oils carbon chains.  Fat servings can add up fast “out of sight, out of mind.” Food manufacturers are now replacing hydrogenated fats with “natural saturated fats” in processed products.  They realize man-made Tran’s fats are more prone to increase the risk of heart disease and other ill-health conditions than natural occurring fats.  Be sure to check the nutrition labels to keep your unhealthy fat consumption down.  Natural Mono-Poly unsaturated oils as found in fish, vegetable oils: Olive, canola, peanut and in most nuts and nut butter does not cause cholesterol to increase and also promotes good cholesterol (HDL’s) from going down.

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.