Is it that big of a deal? Or another marketing ploy? Are non-trans fats that much better than trans fats? Lots of food companies make claims that they are trans-fat free. Is this just hype?
Not a marketing ploy. In fact, the marketing ploy was that for years they were portrayed as healthy alternatives to "bad" saturated fats, which only got their reputation because, by the time anyone really got to looking into what is unhealthy, saturated and trans fats were lumped together as one. Now (well, for the last 30 years) that we know the difference, trans fats are coming out as the real bad guys. Take a quick google search and you'll find articles (I don't have time to point you to any now) and you'll see how they're made. They're effectively artificial fats that the body doesn't deal with properly. Just another reason to eat real, whole foods and not processed crap.
"In fact, the marketing ploy was that for years they were portrayed as healthy alternatives to "bad" saturated fats"
To be fair, the food industry switched to trans-fats after nutritionists at the time declared that hydrogenated vegetable oils were far superior to saturated fats, and had a beneficial side effect of acting as a great preservative*. The discovery that the primarily man-made trans fats are actually terrible for you was a relatively modern advance.
The most remarkable thing about this whole trans fat movement was that it showed the amazing power of information. The governments in both Canada and the US have made it mandatory that trans-fats need to be listed as a separate nutritional component on the packaging. Because of this simple requirement, and the awareness than an informed consumer can use this information to choose one product over another, the industry has been falling over itself to eliminate transfats. Many elements of the industry actually did so very quietly (several huge chip companies eliminated trans fats over a year ago, but only in the past couple of months have started advertising it), I suspect believing that it would be self-incriminating, in the inevitable coming flurry of trans-fat related lawsuits, to make a big deal about it.
* McCormicks cookies, made here in my town, used to disturbingly stay "fresh" for weeks in an opened container. Now with the new non-trans recipe they harden quite quickly. It's for this reason that I've written them and asked them to make the packages resealable
March 17th, 2005
+1 Not a marketing ploy.
In fact they are really very, very harmfull. Call your local heart specialist, he will tell you the same.
Steven A Bristol
March 17th, 2005
Yes, bad. Trans fats, i.e hydrogentated oils causes your liver to produce more bad cholestrol (LDL) of it's own among other things. Food manufacturers typically hydrogenate their oils/fats as a preservative means and to make the fat more "gel" like or increase its viscosity.