Despite the recommendation of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that trans fats should be banned, in line with current legislation in Denmark and New York City, the Government has today announced that it will neither ban the fats nor advise manufacturers to flag them up on food lables .
Trans fats are hydrogenated oils that remain solid at room temperature. They are harmful and have no nutritional benefits and, as they cannot be broken down in the digestive system, they accumulate and clog up arteries. Evidence is mounting that trans fats are implicated in cancer, multiple sclerosis, stroke, obesity and heart disease. They are found in many products, including deep fried foods, baked goods, ice creams, biscuits, snack bars and ready meals; cheap foods are more likely to contain trans fats as they are so convenient for manufacturers to use. Although Tesco and Sainsbury have stated that they will not use trans fats in their own brands, other convenience foods within the stores may be loaded with them.
Avoiding trans fats is not as simple as avoiding cigarettes or alcohol as consumers may find it difficult to know which foods contain them. The labels will not list ‘trans fats’ in the ingredients, but will list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. As these foods are found in many foods marketed for children it may be particularly difficult for parents of young children to identify the offending fats and protect their families; shopping with small children is difficult at the best of times and searching through ingredients may not be an option.
As the Government appear to be unwilling to support consumers to improve their health, it is important for people to educate themselves about which foods are safe to eat. Avoiding fried foods and packaged foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil will help. In addition, eating foods that are rich in essential fats such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and cold pressed vegetable oils may help to redress the balance. To gain more advice on how to avoid the dangerous fats and boost levels of healthy fats, why not make an appointment with Emma at Smart Nutrition.