New Food Label: Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, and Cholesterol

REading food labels

Read Food Labels

Q: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring that, by January 2006, food labels list the amount of trans fat together with saturated fat and cholesterol. What is trans fat?

A: Trans fat is a type of fat that is formed when vegetable oil is hardened through a process called hydrogenation. This process helps makes foods more solid, gives them shape, and prolongs their shelf life.

Q: What do saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in foods have to do with heart disease?

A: Saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in the diet all raise the level of LDL “bad” cholesterol in the blood. The higher the LDL cholesterol, the greater the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), the main form of heart disease and a leading cause of death, illness, and disability in the United States. Saturated fat and trans fat raise LDL similarly, but Americans consume 4-5 times as much saturated fat as trans fat. Saturated fat is the chief dietary culprit that raises LDL, but consumers need to know about all 3 – saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol – in the foods they eat to reduce their risk for CHD and stay heart-healthy.