USDA research: Ditching trans fat doesn’t always lead to higher saturated fat to compensate

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Trans fats Trans fat Nutrition

USDA research: Ditching trans fat doesn’t always lead to higher saturated fat to compensate
New research from USDA suggests that reformulating products to remove or reduce trans fats has not led to large increases in saturated fat content in foods.

A new report by UDSA’s Economic Research Service addresses concerns that firms are potentially replacing one problem with another when they home in on eliminating individual ‘undesirable’ ingredients.

For example, many observers point out that partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (key sources of trans fats) are often replaced by palm oil blends that are high in saturated fat - another (almost as) undesirable nutrient.

You can lower trans and​ saturated fats

However, analysis of products that have been reformulated to reduce or remove trans fats suggests that this is not necessarily the case, say authors Ilya Rahkovsky, Steve Martinez, and Fred Kuchler.

“Some have suggested that products reformulated to reduce trans fats content to qualify for a claim would include higher levels of unhealthy nutrients such as sugar, saturated fat, or sodium…

“However, we find that in all categories except sweet spreads, the products with trans fats ​[also] have more saturated fats and more calories than the products without trans fats.

“This finding is consistent with that of Mozaffarian, Jacobson, and Greenstein (2010) who found that among major brand-name US supermarket products reformulated to reduce their trans fats content, 52 of 58 ended up with lower levels of both trans fats and saturated fats.”

Click here​ to read the report.

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1 comment

Saturated fats are not a health hazard

Posted by David Brown,

The sugar industry says there is no scientific evidence that sugar presents a unique metabolic danger. It's the dose that makes the poison. Contrast this with what's said about saturated fat which many regard as hazardous to health in any dose and in any context. But that is not what the research indicates. It is only in the context of high carbohydrate consumption that saturated fats appear to cause any harm whatsoever.

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