News Date: 
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Source: The Red and Black


Published, May 1, 2007

On Dec. 5, 2006, the New York City Board of Health voted to adopt a ban of the use of trans fats in restaurant cooking.

The board took this groundbreaking action because of the severely negative effects that trans fats have on health.

Though New York is the only city to officially ban the use of trans fats, many food manufacturers have begun to limit or eliminate the amount of trans fats in their products.

At the University, Food Services is taking initiative to decrease the amount of trans fats that students consume.

"Trans fat is a liquid fat that has had hydrogen added to it in order to make it solid at room temperature," said University nutritionist Katherine Ingerson, who helps choose food for the dining halls. "Trans fats are added to foods to increase shelf life and make foods moist, chewy, creamy, flaky or crunchy."

Trans fats are used instead of other fats because they are inexpensive.

Ingerson said the problem with trans fats is they "can increase Low-Density Lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels and decrease High-Density Lipoprotein or "good," cholesterol levels in the body - both of which result in an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke."

Jung Sun Lee, assistant professor of Food and Nutrition Sciences, said trans fats produce inflammation.

However, the good news is Food Services is always looking for ways to limit the amount of trans fats students consume, which includes the trans fat-free frying oil they began using in 2005.

"Food services has definitely moved towards making things healthier - with the huge salad bar, assorted fruits and the vegetarian and vegan options at East Campus Village - but all the cheese served in the various lines is a pitfall," said Gily Raz, a sophomore from Israel.

Cheese and other dairy products naturally contain small amounts of trans fats. However, Raz said she really doesn't know much about trans fats or any initiative Food Services has taken to limit or eliminate their consumption in the dining commons.

Lee said students should "check nutrition labels carefully to see if 'hydrogenated' or 'partially hydrogenated oil' are among the first few ingredients listed."

Hydrogenated oil is a definite sign that trans fats may be present, even in minute amounts.

"The main approach to healthy eating is more than minimizing consumption of trans fats," Lee said. "A nutritious diet should be based largely on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat animal products while minimizing saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, cholesterol and refined sugars."

Food Services is "always looking for ways to increase healthful food options and ensure a healthful array of meal plan options for students," said Ingerson.

Lee said students should survey their diets to make the necessary changes.

"How you think and live while you're young affects the quality of your remaining life," said Lee. "It's never too early to establish good eating behavior."

Published by The Red and Black, May 1, 2007