Nutrition Facts - The Hidden Story
Looking at nutrition facts on labels is important, so keep looking but don't stop there. We'll show you how to see more than the obvious, and how you can use the information.
Let's Start With Trans Fat
Trans fat was first created as a synthetic fat in 1905 to replace lard which is animal fat. Trans fat causes problems in the body and does not function the way unsaturated fats are suppose to. Negative scientific information about this fat started to surface in the 1950's.
In 2006, the FDA established the regulation placing trans fat information on the Nutrition Facts labels. But there is missing information on the label still making it difficult to totally eliminate the chance of eating trans fat from packaged foods you buy in the grocery stores.
Discovering the Hidden Information
There are three areas to check on a Nutrition Facts label to see what you want to know.
- Serving size and content amount
- Fats section - grams of Trans Fat
- If Trans Fat is zero, then look at the Ingredients list
Do you see any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils listed? Trans fat is formed when the vegetable oils are treated with hydrogen gas while heated and under pressure.
You can easily see if there is trans fat just by checking for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat in the Ingredients. The Ingredients list is not always by the Nutrition Facts label so you will have to look around for it on the container.
The current labeling law established in January 2006, allows the manufacturer to list trans fat as "0" (zero) on the label if there is less than .5 grams per serving.
The FDA website explains the new labeling regulation of trans fat if you want more information on this.
Why is This Important?
Since the amount of trans fat is listed per serving on the Nutrition Facts label, you'll then have to determine if the suggested serving is really one serving for YOU. One cookie in a box of 48 cookies may be appropriate according to the Serving Size rules of the FDA but is that the amount YOU would consider a serving size.
How much of that particular food item are you going to eat at one sitting or in one day or one week? For instance - 1 cookie per serving, and you eat 8 of them, you may receive 3.9 grams of trans fat (.499 grams per serving times 8 = 3.9 grams). With zero trans fat listed on the label, you would never know or care.
How Much is Too Much?
Some say to eat as little trans fat as possible, others say to avoid it all together. If you want to ensure you are eating to build your health, I recommend you locate which foods are likely to contain the trans fat and just don't eat them. Restaurant eating would be a study in itself.
Trans fat does not provide nutrition. It bungles up the works in the body and makes it difficult to function. The cardiovascular system is one noted area that is affected negatively.
I found a reference indicating 1.0 or more grams of trans fat a day was enough to put 20% of the 90,000 Nurses taking part in the study at risk of having heart problems. This was published in a 1997 New England Journal of Medicine.
To learn more about trans fat there is a book, "Know Your Fats" by Mary G. Enig, that helps to make this subject very clear. It can help you understand why you should eat specific fats for good health and why some do a lot of harm. This book can help you determine the true and the false information that has been presented over the last 60 years.
Figure Your Own Personal Requirements
If you look over the Nutrition Facts labels on the packaged foods you've been buying, you can begin to get some idea of how much trans fat you might be eating. Just start adding them up and see what you eat in a weeks time. Margarine is a big contributor of trans fats.
Stay Tuned for More...
There's a lot more to say about Nutrition Facts. We'll be adding more pages to let you know more than what the labels are indicating. It looks like 'hidden information" coming to the surface will be an ongoing saga, so stay tuned.
Please feel free to email me if you have questions or comments. I am always happy to respond.
Go to the Natural Healthy Eating Home Page from Nutrition Facts