It's been three years since several New York counties banned trans fats. According to a new study, in that time, heart attacks and stroke rates have fallen by more than six percent.
Trans fats, which are a chemically-altered version of liquid fats, stay fresh longer than their more organic counterparts. For that reason, they're a desirable alternative for many food manufacturers, and for years they were rampant in the oils used in everything from microwave popcorn to frosting-filled cookies. However, it was discovered that their solid consistency made them just as artery-clogging as butter.
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Dr. Eric Brandt of the Yale University School of Medicine and his team pored through medical records to find out if New York's various countywide bans had made any visible difference in the lives of those counties' residents.
“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,” the team wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Cardiology, confirming that, in fact, the ban had had a significant effect.
It's important to note, however, that the team did not measure deaths; rather, they merely observed the lower rates of strokes and heart attacks. Still, they noted that these lowered health risk rates have been shown to decrease death rates, too.
In a statement, Brandt said: "A nationwide trans fat ban is a win for the millions of people at risk for cardiovascular disease,” commenting on the national ban on trans fats that is set to be put into action in 2018. As of that year, food manufacturers will be required to get permission from the Food and Drug Aministration to use trans fats and other hydrogenated oils in their products.
The FDA has estimated that a whopping 80 percent of trans fats have been removed from U.S. food items, but some still remain, as noted by the researchers.
“A large order of Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen cajun fries contains 3.5g of trans-fatty acids per serving, Taco Bell’s Cinnabon Delights (12-pack) contain 2.0g of trans-fatty acids per serving, and multiple varieties of Pillsbury Shape sugar cookies contain 2.5 g of trans-fatty acids per serving,” they wrote. However, as of 2018 that all could change and if Yale's findings are any indication, it's all for the better.