The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just announced on November 7th that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are no longer considered safe for use in food. Partially hydrogenated oils are used in food to extend shelf life and to produce “solid” fats from liquid fats. The most common example would be converting corn oil into shortening or margarine. When heated, PHOs break down into trans fats which are commonly understood to play a role in cardiovascular disease. PHOs are the primary source of artificial trans fats in processed foods so this recognition by the FDA is a giant step forward in reducing this common health risk.
Consumption of trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils has declined over the past two decades secondary to consumer education and voluntary omission by food manufacturers. However, PHOs are still found in many popular processed foods today, including certain desserts, microwave popcorn, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers. The FDA Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, MD, states that further reduction of trans fat in food could prevent an additional 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
As Naturopaths, we always encourage patients to increase their intake of essential fatty acids (EFAs) usually by supplementing daily with a quality fish oil. Reducing the intake of trans fats is critical to maintaining cardiovascular health as well as balancing fatty acids in the body. Imbalances in fatty acid distribution can hinder hormonal function as well as cellular metabolism. At Elements, we strive to keep our patients both healthy and educated.