Advocates of a cut in trans-fat consumption will find hope this month in the form of a study by researchers at the university of Minnesota in Minneapolis. They found that men are eating less total trans-fatty acids today than they did in the early 1980s.
According to the study, that used data collected as part of the ongoing Minnesota Heart Survey (MHS), for men the mean intake of total trans-fatty acids declined from 8.3 g per day in 1980-1982 to 6.2 g per day in 1995-1997.
Twenty-four-hour dietary recalls were collected on a subset of participants, to obtain trans-fatty acid intake estimates the dietary recall records were recalculated using the university of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center Food and Nutrient Database, report the scientists.
So what are the reasons for the decline? "Americans are making great strides in improving cardiovascular health by consuming fewer trans-fatty acids. Awareness of the harmful effects caused by these acids is critical to improving health," said email@example.com" target="_blank">Lisa Harnack, one of the researchers.
"This study magnifies the fact that there are good and bad choices people can make concerning fat and oil consumption in their diet," Harnack continued.
But there is no room for resting on laurels as the researchers conclude that 'consideration to additional changes in the food supply and consumer food choices may result in further reduction in consumption of trans-fatty acids'.
Recent scientific evidence suggests that consumption of trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol ('bad' cholesterol) levels that increase the risk of coronary heart disease. The findings have encouraged consumer groups to pressurise the food industry to cut trans fats in foods.
Trans fat occurs in foods - such as snacks and fried foods - when manufacturers use hydrogenation, a process in which hydrogen is added to vegetable oil in order to turn the oil into a more solid fat.
Some food companies have brought in measures to cut trans fat content including the UK arm of Nestle, and Frito-Lay North America, a division of PepsiCo.The paper, 'Trends in the trans-fatty acid composition of the diet in a metropolitan area: The Minnesota Heart Survey,' by L. Harnack, S. Lee, S. F. Schakel, S. Duval, R. V. Luepker and D. K. Arnett was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (2003) 103:1160-1166.