Today, the United States Food and Drug Administration removed hydrogenated oils from its list of of safe food additives in packaged foods, providing a 2018 deadline by which food manufacturers must eliminate hydrogenated oils from their products unless given special permission. Hydrogenated oil—vegetable oil to which hydrogen has been industrially added—is the biggest source of trans fat in Americans’ diets and has been used since the 1950s to increase the shelf-lives of processed foods such as baked goods, chips, and non-dairy creamers and margarines. Since research has shown that trans fatty acids raise levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the blood, food manufacturers have faced pressure to reduce or eliminate its use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that banning industrially produced trans fat could prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 coronary deaths each year, saving the US economy $30 billion to $41 billion annually. Since a number of “accidentally vegan” packaged foods contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil, this news will help improve the nutritional content of foods that affect Americans with all types of diets.
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