>> Monday, February 8, 2010
It took a decade starting from 1989 before the government even agreed to make a decision about trans fats. Three four after THAT it was finally made law - but producers had a grace period of until 2006. Thus it is 2010, four years after the final deadline for manufacturers to label the amount of trans fat in products, ...and many people everywhere are still unaware of how much trans fat might be in their food.
How is this possible? In short, it is because corporations have a lot more money than you, and they want to keep making a lot more money than you. They fought long and hard to avoid labeling how much trans fat is in the cookie, cracker, sports drink, or even body spray (you never know WHAT it will be found in!) that you consume or use. And even though they lost that battle, they still managed to lobby themselves a very convenient loophole in the rule; manufacturers are allowed to put .5 gram of trans fat per serving, and they get to determine how big a serving should be. One serving of microwave popcorn, for example, is a single cup of popcorn, which of course is a ridiculously small amount of popcorn - no one eats "just one cup"!
If you want to avoid this lethal ingredient, the only way to be sure is to blast off and nuke 'em from orbit. That is, just avoid eating processed food entirely. This is certainly possible to do as there are many people out there doing so already. But if you can't get yourself to go that far, you'll need to learn to read ingredient listings on the box label.
First of all, disregard everything you see on the front of the box. In fact, if a product has a text burst or other such attention-grabbing label that declares how such and such a product is good for your heart, trans fat free, or makes some other positive health claim, you're probably safer to just pass on by and not waste your time even checking. Remember; real food doesn't come in a box. But if you find yourself looking at the back, then scan the list for the key words "partially hydrogenated oil" or "vegetable shortening" - or any such combination of words. If you see those in the list, and the front of the box told you it's trans fat free, they are LYING to you.
Remember that ingredients are listed usually in order of prominence, so if you find these hydrogenated oils near the front of the list, the per-serving grams are going to be pretty high. Even if you find them near the bottom of the list, try to remember that the amount per day that's acceptable to eat is ZERO.
Check those serving sizes! How many cookies would you eat in one sitting? How many does the manufacturer recommend? If you're consuming over that amount, you're moving into the full grams-per-day ratio. (And what are you doing, eating these things in the first place?)
Trans fat is popular with manufacturers because it is cheaper than the alternatives, and because it increases shelf life by a huge degree. These are some of the exact opposite reasons that you eat food; you eat, or should be eating, food not simply for the taste of it but for the nutritive value and how healthy it will make your body. There is no body-neutral food out there; either something is going to hurt you or heal you to some degree. So eat at home, avoid boxes, cans, and jars as much as possible, and be selective about what foods with labels you do choose to eat.
Remember the Psychic Lunch mantra: Know What You Eat!