Now that we’re in the new year, Iowans may notice some new information on their food labels. As of January first, packagers were required to start listing “trans fat” on the label, right under saturated fats. Laurie Mills, a dietician at the Iowa Heart Center, applauds the effort to make consumers more aware of what they’re eating. She explains what trans fats are — or more specifically, trans fatty acids.
Hydrogen is added to the fats under pressure, making the fat more solid. Mills says trans fats have been found to increase the risk of heart disease and may also be linked to type-two diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. She says consumers should get in the habit of looking for trans fat on the label before they put the item in their shopping cart — or back on the shelf.
Mills says the line on trans fat is under “total fat,” beneath “saturated fat” and just above the optional lines on polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat. She says about four in every ten products will be effected by the new F-D-A labeling rule and consumers should look for it in foods including: cookies, crackers, chips, microwave popcorn and many other snacks.
Mills says the recommendation is to keep trans fats as low as possible in your diet, so if you have two brands of the same product and one has trans fats and the other doesn’t, that should influence your decision. She says trans fats can raise the level of L-D-L cholesterol, the bad kind, in a person’s body, in turn raising the risk of heart disease — which is one of the nation’s top killers.