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Nutrition

Nutrition Label Changes Mean Disease Prevention for You


Researchers are calling for the addition of specific trans-fatty acid information to food labeling to help consumers make more informed food choices and avoid adding to their risk of heart disease, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Trans fats, made by a process that solidifies oils and prolongs the shelf life of processed foods, are found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, and other snack foods. They provide no nutritional benefit.

Removing trans-fats from all margarines, 3 percent of breads and cakes and 15 percent of cookies and crackers would prevent up to 17,100 heart attacks and 5,600 deaths per year, according to research presented at an American Heart Association conference this past June.

A 1 percent trans-fatty acid intake would be eliminated simply as a result of people knowing which products contained the substance, which is linked to increases in levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol, researchers estimate.

Although it could take approximately 10 years to fully realize the health benefits from labeling changes, dietary changes following the change could save between $25 to $59 billion over 20 years, which compares favorably to projected costs of $401 to $854 million for making the labeling change and reformulating products over the same period, according to the study.


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