Fighting Trans Fat in the Food Industry
Recently we have heard a lot of talk about the connection between margarine and high cholesterol. The consumption of margarine, also called margarine spread, has been found to raise levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL). While many people are quick to blame saturated fats in the margarine for this condition, the truth is that other major components in the food, as well as the trans fat that are commonly used in the cooking process, can also contribute to the problem. In addition to butter, margarine manufacturers should also be aware that sunflower and palm oil can also raise cholesterol levels.
These days, there are more alternatives for cooking our favorite snacks and we are beginning to see more awareness of nutrition among Americans. More people are taking responsibility for their health and making changes that can lead to long-term weight loss. One immediate solution that many individuals are switching to is using healthier cooking oils. Natural oils like grape seed oil and extra virgin olive oil have been found to have many health benefits. In fact, a growing number of margarine manufacturers are adding natural oils to their products as a part of their butter and margarine spreads.
Although there are several different types of margarine products on the market, hydrogenated oils are one of the most popular choices. Hydrogenated oils are created by adding a hydrogen agent to the trans fat in the vegetable oil. When hydrogen is combined with the oil, it forms a substance that has a higher melting point and makes it easier for food to penetrate it. This process makes margarine products healthier and more appealing to consumers. However, experts are concerned about the negative consequences of partially hydrogenated oils.
Some experts believe that the consumption of margarine and spreads containing partially hydrogenated oils may lead to increased risks of heart disease and diabetes. Other health experts think that the compounds within these types of oils are simply too volatile to be absorbed through the human body. Because of this, the FDA is requiring margarine manufacturers to label their products as containing “trans fat” on the product’s Nutrition Information Pack. Even some restaurants are now selling margarine that has been “reduced from” hydrogenated oil.
Even though the reduced levels of trans fats produced by the margarine manufacturers may make their products healthier, this does not mean that the public should completely disregard all margarine and other butter products. If a restaurant is selling margarine with high levels of hydrogenated oil, the customer should ask for further information about the nutritional content of the food product. By paying attention to the nutrition facts, and comparing the nutrient content of different types of butter with the traditional butter, the public can ensure that they are getting a healthy and nutritious meal. This will help them avoid purchasing food products that contain trans fats.
With margarine manufacturers struggling to decrease the amounts of trans fats being used in their products, the public is becoming more informed about the benefits of using healthier butter. While this may not completely eliminate the use of trans fats altogether, it can definitely help consumers become more educated about the food industry’s nutrition guidelines. By educating themselves on the nutritional content of many popular food products, consumers can feel confident that they are making informed choices about what they are consuming.