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Originally published May 11 2009

80 Percent of Americans Have No Idea Which Foods Contain Trans Fats

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) While most people in the United States now know that they should avoid trans fats, only 20 percent actually know which foods are likely to contain the dangerous ingredients, according to a survey conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado-Denver and published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Trans fats, also known as hydrogenated oils, are artificially produced in the laboratory by adding extra hydrogen atoms to unsaturated vegetable oils. They have long been a favorite of the food industry for their increased shelf life over conventional oils. Unlike natural fats, however, trans fats have no nutritional value and drastically increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Like saturated fats, they increase the body's levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, but unlike those fats they also lower its levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol.

Researchers surveyed 1,000 adult residents of the United States in 2007 about their knowledge of trans fats, and found that a full 92 percent had heard of the fats, compared with only 84 percent who had heard of them in 2006. Almost 75 percent of those who had heard of trans fats were aware that consumption of the fats raises the risk of heart disease.

The researchers next asked people to list three foods that contain trans fats, but only 21 percent were able to do so -- nevertheless an improvement over 17 percent in 2006.

While food companies are required to list trans fats on nutritional labels, a product can be listed as trans fat free if it contains less than point-five grams (0.5g) of the fats per serving. Any product containing "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" oils, however, contains trans fats. They are commonly used in baked and fried foods, although some manufacturers have started phasing out their use.

Laws banning the use of trans fats in restaurants have been passed in a number of cities, including New York, as well as by the state of California.

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