By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The World Health Organization says artificial trans fats should be cut from all foods by 2023. For years, researchers have known that the artificial ingredient can increase bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.

So which foods still have trans fats?  Good Question.

“They’re not there much anymore because manufacturers have been working to get them out,” says Deb Sheats, a professor of nutrition at St. Catherine University.

It’s very hard to find something on U.S. food shelves with trans fats these days. In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration gave food manufacturers three years to eliminate the artificial partially hydrogenated oils that create trans fats.  Their deadline in June 18, 2018.

Sheats says manufacturers started using trans fats in the 1950s as a way to give food a longer shelf life. They were very common in margarine, shortening, cookies, cakes, crackers, pizza dough and microwave popcorn.  It wasn’t until years later that researchers showed how bad they are for your heart.

Now, food manufacturers replace those partially hydrogenated oils with other healthier oils and fats.

There are some foods with naturally occurring trans fats that can’t be eliminated. For example, beef, dairy, and butter all have small amounts of natural trans fats that are different from the artificial trans fats.

“They’re not problematic for people, they don’t cause the same problems,” Sheats says. “They’re in very minute amounts, so we don’t want people to stop drinking milk or to stop eating meat.”

Monday’s announcement from World Health Organization is focused more on developing countries, given many European countries already eliminated them in the early 2000s. By eliminating trans fats worldwide, the WHO believes it could save 500,000 lives.


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