Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Watch what you eat

Over the last two to three weeks I have been concerned about Trans Fat. Trans Fats, also known as Partially Hydrogenated Oil (this is how it is listed in ingredient lists) have been linked to increased heart disease and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The risk is even greater for women. Trans Fats not only clog the arteries, but they raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, again contributing to increased heart disease.

In 1999 the National Academy of Sciences did an analysis of Trans Fats and issued a report. They were attempting to determine an appropriate and safe level of Trans Fat in a normal diet (as has been done for other types of fats and sodium). Here is the statement they issued about the safe level of Trans Fat:
"The National Academy of Sciences’ report is the first attempt by a panel of experts to set a safe intake level for trans fat. The panel found that, like saturated fat, trans fat promotes heart disease. Furthermore, the panel concluded that the only safe intake of trans fat is 'zero.'"

What has amazed me about Trans Fats is how pervasive they are. I went through our pantry and threw away so much food it was unbelievable. Examples include:

>>Pancake Mix
>>Canned Soups
>>Microwave Popcorn
>>Hot Cocoa Mix
>>Peanut Butter
>>Rice and Noodle dish mixes
>>Instant Oatmeal
>>Instant Grits
>>Cream of Wheat

Even the new Snicker's Marathon energy bars have Trans Fat! It's supposed to be formulated for athletes but they put in an ingredient like Trans Fat.

The list goes on and on. Even my favorite hard candies, Caramel Nips and Coffee nips, contain Trans Fat.

As I've become an athlete I've developed a greater awareness of my health and the food I eat. I also think about the food my daughter eats. If she develops bad food habits now, at the age of four, what chance does she have to lead a long and healthy life. So my wife and I have been reading labels and paying more attention to where we shop and where we eat. I do a lot of shopping at Whole Foods Market now, trying to avoid (where possible) pesticides, artificial ingredients, weird additives, etc. It's more expensive, which I don't like, but I think it's worth it.

While we're on the topic of nutrition, I'm also a vegetarian. I was a vegetarian for about 8 years, then off the wagon for about 4, but now I'm vegetarian again. My wife and daughter still eat meat, although they don't eat much (we don't cook any meat at home, so they only eat meat when we go out).

Anyway, I just thought I would share my thoughts with the blogging community. Maybe I'm being a little reactionary, but better safe than sorry. Below are two good links on Trans Fat:

Trans Fat 101

Ban Trans Fat