A review article that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine last year provided evidence that these fats increased the risk for coronary heart disease.
Eliminating unhealthy fats from your diet does not mean sticking to a low-fat diet. You body needs good fats for healthy functioning. It just requires knowing which fats are good for you and which to avoid. It is the trans fats, specifically, that are unhealthy. They are artificially created fats that many kitchens have used because of their long shelf life or stability during deep-frying.
As of this month, New York City restaurants can no longer use oils containing artificial trans fats for frying, sauteing or grilling, and more than 80 percent of the city's restaurants are already complying with this new regulation, after having found alternative oils to cook with.
For baked goods, the regulation banning use of trans fats is not mandated until July 2008, so artificial oils will still be permitted in cake batter and to deep-fry dough.
A ruling by the Food and Drug Administration that took effect at the beginning of last year mandates that all standard foods and supplements include the content of trans fats on their nutrition label. This regulation permits you, as the consumer, to make an educated choice about the foods you buy in grocery stores around the country in terms of unhealthy fat content.
Tips for cutting trans fats:
-- When eating out, ask which fats are being used before you order. Avoid foods such as fried onion rings and fries, which almost always contain trans fats.
-- Consider eating foods such as fish, nuts, vegetables and fruit instead of meat.
-- Choose vegetable oils like canola oil, olive oil, or safflower oil for cooking. Avoid coconut and palm kernel oils, which are very high in saturated fats.
-- Check the nutrition labels on foods for saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fats. Saturated fats lower than 5 percent DV are considered low, anything above 20 percent DV is high. There is no percent DV for trans fats -- these should be entirely avoided. Remember that manufacturers are not obliged to mention trans fat up to half a gram, so even if it reads 0, there may be trans fats in some foods such as chips.
-- Avoid crackers, cookies, processed snack foods, candies and certain salad dressings (replace pre-made salad dressings with olive oil and vinegar).
-- Limit the foods high in cholesterol such as liver and other organ meats, and full-fat dairy products such as whole milk and egg yolks.
(Karen Dente is a physician-writer based in New York whose online bylines have also appeared in Reuters Health, HealthDay News and Medscape of WebMD.)
(The medical information provided in this column is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any questions regarding a medical condition, always seek the advice of a medical doctor or other qualified health provider.)
Exploding whale video goes viral on Internet
Jordana Brewster on Paul Walker: 'He was an enormous presence in my life'