by Dr. Keri Chiappino DC, DACNB, BCN

In July 2018, the FDA banned U.S. manufacturers from using artificial trans fatty acids, a.k.a. trans fats, in processed foods to extend shelf life and flavor. The additives were found to elevate bad (LDL or low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels and lower (HDL or high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Although banned, trans fats can still be found in many foods, including cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, crackers and stick margarine due to the fact that products manufactured before the July 2018 are still permitted to be distributed until January 2021, per FDA regulations.

A new study out last month in the journal Neurology now establishes a link between trans fats and dementia, reporting that participants in the highest blood trans fat study group had a 52% higher chance of developing dementia. Researchers noted that the FDA ban contains a provision allowing foods containing less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving to be labeled as having “0 grams” of trans fats; consumption of these dubiously labeled products means that harmful levels can accumulate in the body if multiple servings of foods containing even trace amounts of the substance are eaten.

 

A reminder as we approach the holiday season:  Be vigilant about reading labels on products you are purchasing for your family feasts. Sweet pastries are cited as the strongest contributor of trans fats, followed by margarine, candies, caramels, chewing gum, and croissants. Labels having “partially hydrogenated” ingredients are a key clue that the product contains trans fats; if opting to make your own desserts, refrain from using vegetable shortening and margarine sticks to help protect your heart, brain and overall health — and your holiday guests’ health, too.