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Originally published May 13 2008

American Heart Association Certified Foods Still Allowed to Contain Trans Fatty Acids

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The American Heart Association (AHA) has revealed that until a new policy takes effect on January 1, 2009, foods labeled with the association's heart healthy stamp are still allowed to contain trans fats.

As part of its Food Certification Program, the AHA allows food manufacturers who voluntarily sign up for the program to display either a "low in saturated fat and cholesterol" stamp, or a similar stamp that also notes that the food contains more than 50 percent whole grains by weight. Manufacturers pay a certification fee ranging from $3,150 to $7,500, to cover the AHA's costs in maintaining the program.

Under the new guidelines, foods must be confirmed to contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving in order to qualify for either stamp. This includes packaged foods, frozen meals, meat, poultry or seafood.

According to the AHA, all currently certified products must prove by December 26, 2008 that they meet the new guidelines in order to keep their heart healthy stamps, but the association says that all currently certified foods already do so.

Other requirements for the heart healthy stamp are that a single food serving be low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and that it contains at least 10 percent of the recommended daily amount for vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, dietary fiber, iron or protein.

Trans fats occur naturally in very small amounts in some meat and dairy products, but are mostly synthesized when hydrogen atoms are added to unsaturated (vegetable) fats in order to increase their shelf life. Trans fats have no nutritional value and have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease by raising LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, lowering HDL ("good") cholesterol and promoting cardiovascular inflammation.

Approximately 870,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year.

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