Trans Fat Takes a Hit

The American Heart Association (AHA) released new guidelines on Monday urging a strict limit on the intake of trans fat in people's dietsóless than one percent of total calories. The Associated Press reports:

A panel of specialists in nutrition and heart disease reviewed more than 90 studies to update the dietary advice the association released in 2000. The guidelines are for healthy Americans ages 2 and older.

Rather than slavishly counting calories and grams of fat, people should try something simpler: getting in the habit of cooking with healthier oils, and balancing calories consumed with calories burned through exercise, said Alice Lichtenstein, a Tufts University nutrition expert who chaired the guidelines panel.

Trans fats, or trans fatty acids such as partially hydrogenated oils, are in many cookies, crackers, breads, cakes, French fries and other fried foods. They contribute to heart disease risk by raising LDL, or the bad cholesterol.

While the AHA's edict is a step in the right direction, Dr. Fuhrman would contend completely eliminating trans fat is the healthiest choice. He has harsh words for trans fat: (From Eat to Live)

Trans fats do not exist in nature. They are laboratory-designed and have adverse health consequences. They interfere with the body's production of beneficial fatty acids and promote heart disease.1 As trans fatty acids offer no benefits and only clear adverse metabolic consequences, when you see the words partially hydrogenated on the side of a box, consider it poisonous and throw it in the trash.

1. Judd, J.T., B. A. Clevidence, R. A. Muesing, et al. 1994. Dietary trans fatty acids: effects on plasma lipids and lipoproteins of healthy men and women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 59 (4): 861-68; Mensink, R. P., and M. B. Katan. 1990. Effects on dietary trans fatty acids on high-density and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in healthy subjects. N. Eng. J. Med. 323 (7): 439-45.

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