After some counties in New York banned trans fats, heart attacks and strokes fell by more than 6%, say researchers from Yale University. With a national trans fat ban scheduled for 2018, the finding shows that deaths, strokes, and non-fatal heart attacks could plummet nationwide.

Trans fats are found in oils used to make prepared food and junk food (basically the same thing, right?) like cookies and microwave popcorn, and to fry fast food. Companies started using trans fats because they stay fresh longer than liquid oils. However, the chemical process used to solidify trans fats also makes them serious artery-cloggers. [1]

Source: Business Insider

In July 2007, New York City became the first U.S. city to ban trans fats in eateries, and several other cities and counties followed its lead. To measure the impact of the ban, Dr. Eric Brandt, of the Yale University School of Medicine, and colleagues looked at medical records, comparing counties where there were bans to counties where there were not. [2]

Read: 3 Ways Banned Trans Fats Are Still Lurking in Your Food

The team wrote:

“There was an additional 6.2 percent decline in hospital admissions for myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke among populations living in counties with vs without trans-fatty acid restrictions.” [1]

In a statement, Brandt said:

“A nationwide trans fat ban is a win for the millions of people at risk for cardiovascular disease.” [1]

Trans fats had been considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA, but the agency says that is no longer the case. Past studies have shown that consuming even small amounts of trans fats increases your risk for stroke, heart disease, and sudden heart death. Just 2 grams can raise your risk, researchers say. The researchers wrote:

“For example, a large order of Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen Cajun fries contains 3.5 g of trans-fatty acids per serving, Taco Bell’s Cinnabon Delights (12-pack) contain 2.0 g of trans-fatty acids per serving, and multiple varieties of Pillsbury Shape sugar cookies contain 2.5 g of trans-fatty acids per serving.” [1]

After 2018, food companies will have to receive FDA approval to use trans fats in their products. The agency estimates that 80% of trans fats are already gone from U.S. foods. [1]

The study is published in JAMA Cardiology.

Sources:

[1] NBC News

[2] The New York Times

Business Insider


Storable Food


About Julie Fidler:
Author Image
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.