Canada Gets Tough on Trans Fats

~ October 2006 No.208 ~

The consumption of trans fatty acids or trans fats has been shown to be bad for your cardiovascular system. Trans fats increase blood levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol and decrease blood levels of HDL (high density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol. Both of these changes are strongly associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease. Eating trans fats even appears to be more harmful to heart health than eating saturated fats. Because so many processed foods contain trans fats, there has been some resistance by the food industry to find ways to produce trans free products. Food manufacturers use trans fats because trans fats add desirable flavour, smell, a pleasant mouth feel and also increase the shelf life of processed foods. Finding suitable replacements for trans fats that will give the same end-product may be expensive.

The list of foods that contain trans fat is long and includes crackers, cookies, donuts, cakes, pastries, muffins, croissants, snack foods and fried foods such as french fries and breaded foods. Canadians are among the largest consumers of trans fat in the world. This high consumption, together with the growing evidence about the detrimental health effects of dietary trans fats prompted the passage of a motion in the Canadian Parliament that directed Health Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada to co-chair a multi-stakeholder task force with a mandate to develop recommendations and strategies “to effectively eliminate or reduce processed trans fats in Canadian foods to the lowest level possible.”

In Canada consumers can use food labels to monitor trans fat levels in the foods they eat because Canadian nutrition labelling regulations require that Calories and the content of 13 core nutrients, including trans fats, be listed on the labels of most pre- packaged foods. However, taking the trans fat out of foods would be an even better way of reducing consumption.

The Canadian task force recommended that within 4 years all vegetable oils and soft, spreadable (tub-type) margarines the trans fat content be limited by regulation to 2% of total fat content, and for all other food the total trans fat content be limited by regulation to 5% of total fat content.

Soon Canadians will be eating foods with little of no trans fats. Reduced risk for cardiovascular disease will be the long term reward.

 

Trans Fat Content of some Common Foods1
FoodTotal Fat
(g / 100 g food)
Total Trans Fat
(g / 100 g fat)
Brownies19-2724-25
Arrowroot Cookies2430
Frozen Hash Browns624
Oriental Noodles2139
Stick margarine70-7240
Granola Bar
(hydrogenated vegetable oil)
1328

 

 

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Last modified

June 01 2016