It is estimated that eating trans-fats lead to the death of more than 500,000 people around the world every year. The FDA once estimated that approximately 95 percent of prepared cookies, 100 percent of crackers, and 80 percent of frozen breakfast products contain trans-fats. Today, the FDA and the World Health Organization (WHO) are trying to eradicate the use of trans-fats from our food supply.
What are trans-fats?
Trans-fats are a type of fat that naturally occur in some foods (meat and dairy products; including beef, lamb and butterfat), and can be artificially added to processed foods. Artificial trans-fats (or trans-fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oil in order for them to solidify at room temperature. This process is called hydrogenation. For the food industry, adding trans-fats help prolong product shelf life, gives food a desirable taste and texture, and can be used many times in commercial fryers.
In humans, trans-fats reduce HDL (or “good”) cholesterol and increases LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels. It also increases triglycerides, markers of systemic inflammation (C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, and tumor necrosis factor α), and induces endothelial cell dysfunction. Trans-fats promote inflammation and over-activity of the immune system, which has been implicated in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Eating trans-fats also reduce the normal healthy responsiveness of the cells that line our blood vessels.
Reducing Your Consumption of Trans-Fats
Last year I posted a bulletin where you can find more details about what trans-fatty acids are, where to find them, and the efforts from the FDA to remove trans-fats from the American market by June 18th 2018. After this date, the FDA will no longer label trans-fats as “Generally Recognized as Safe” or GRAS. However, the FDA recently extended the compliance date until January 1st 2020 to allow companies time to transition.
Several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans-fats from their food supply and have experienced a decline in cardiovascular disease deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in several high income countries.
WHO is now focusing its efforts on ensuring that middle- and lower-income countries eradicate their use of trans-fats over the next five years. In May 2018, they released the REPLACE plan, a step-by-step guide to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply. This guide provides six strategic actions to ensure the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans-fats from the food supply:
- Review dietary sources of industrially-produced trans-fats and the landscape for required policy change.
- Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans-fats with healthier fats and oils.
- Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fats.
- Assess and monitor trans-fat content in the food supply and changes in trans-fat consumption in the population.
- Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans-fats among policy makers, producers, suppliers, and the public.
- Enforce compliance of policies and regulations.
For more information about how to reduce your consumption of trans-fats please click here.
Recipe of the Week: Maple-Sweetened Banana Muffins
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Yield: 11 muffins
⅓ Cup of cold-pressed sunflower oil
½ Cup of maple syrup or honey
2 Eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 Cup of packed mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
¼ Cup of milk of choice or water (I used almond milk)
1 Teaspoon of baking soda
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
½ Teaspoon of salt
½ Teaspoon of cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 ¾ Cups of white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
⅓ Cup of old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 Teaspoon turbinado (raw) sugar or other granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease your muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, beat the sunflower oil and maple syrup together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well. Mix in the mashed bananas and milk, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon.
Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, until just combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins, like nuts, chocolate or dried fruit, fold them in now.
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats (about 1 tablespoon in total), followed by a light sprinkling of sugar (about 1 teaspoon in total). Bake muffins for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan.
These muffins will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. They keep well in the freezer in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months (just defrost individual muffins as needed).
*Recipe of the Week via Cookie & Kate
Have a great weekend,
Karen Alexander, BSND, MSCN