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Healthier Fats Replacing Trans Fats, Study Finds
Date:5/26/2010

The food industry is 'trying to do the right thing,' researcher says

WEDNESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Fears that removing harmful trans fats from foods would open the door for manufacturers and restaurants to add other harmful fats to foods seem to be unfounded, a new study finds.

A team from Harvard School of Public Health analyzed 83 reformulated products from supermarkets and restaurants, and found little cause for alarm.

"We found that in over 80 brand name, major national products, the great majority took out the trans fat and did not just replace it with saturated fat, suggesting they are using healthier fats to replace the trans fat," said lead researcher Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an assistant professor of epidemiology.

Trans fats -- created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil to make it firmer -- are cheap to produce and long-lasting, making them ideal for fried foods. They also add flavor that consumers like, but are known to decrease HDL, or good, cholesterol, and increase LDL, or bad, cholesterol, which raises the risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes, according to the American Heart Association.

The report, published in the May 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, found no increase in the use of saturated fats in reformulated foods sold in supermarkets and restaurants, Mozaffarian said.

Baked goods were the only exception. Mozaffarian said trans fat was replaced by saturated fat in some bakery items, but they were the minority of products studied. Saturated fats have been associated in research studies with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, diabetes and arterial inflammation.

The big up-front cost to industry is reformulating the product, Mozaffarian said. "When industry and restaurants go through that effort, they are recognizing that, 'We might as well make the food healthier,' and in the great majority of cases they are able to do so," he
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