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WJBD - Health & Fitness News - Food Brands Not Making Enough Progress Against Trans Fats, Study Finds

Food Brands Not Making Enough Progress Against Trans Fats, Study Finds

Thinkstock Images/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Trans fatty acids -- they're in many of our favorite comfort foods. But nutrition and diet experts will likely tell you to cut back on foods high in trans fats to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and cut heart disease risk. According to a new study, manufacturers of popular food brands could be doing a better job of cutting back on fatty acid content.

Researchers report that progress on eliminating trans fats in processed foods has stalled following years of food manufacturers reformulating products to reduce or eliminate these artery-clogging fats. The rate of reduction in trans fats fell from 30 percent in 2007 to 2008 to 12 percent in 2008 to 2010, and down to three percent in 2010 to 2011.

Even low levels of these fats can promote heart disease by raising LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting trans fat consumption to less than one percent of your total daily calories. In other words, if you need 2,000 calories a day, "no more than 20 of those calories [less than 2 grams] should come from trans fats," AHA says.

The majority of trans fats in the food industry come from produced partially hydrogenated oil, found in foods like French fries, heavily buttered or seasoned popcorn, pies and margarines.

Researchers from the Center for Science in the Public Interest studied 270 brand-name products with at least half-gram trans fat from 2007 to 2011 to track their trans fat content. By 2011, they found two-thirds of the products had reduced their trans fat content, but half the reformulated products still contained some partially hydrogenated oil.

In all products studied, the average trans fat content decreased by about half from 1.9 to 0.9 grams per serving.

So how can you tell whether you're staying within the daily recommended amounts of fatty acids?  The AHA suggests you start by reading the nutritional facts panel on foods when grocery shopping and replacing trans fats in your diet with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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