Local Cardiologist Calls Trans Fat Ban "Overdue"

Nov 8, 2013

Illustration of hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis
Credit U.S. National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health

Miriam Hospital cardiologist and Brown medical school professor Dr. Barbara Roberts said the Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to ban trans fats in processed foods is long overdue. Trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, are added to foods like cookies, ready-to-use frostings, and microwave popcorn to extend their shelf life. Scientists have known for decades that they can lead to hardened arteries and higher bad cholesterol. And because they’re mainly found in processed foods, Roberts said she gives this advice to her patients:

“If you want to be healthy, you need to eat foods that have been monkeyed with as little as possible by human beings. So avoid processed foods.”

Roberts said lifestyle factors, including consuming trans fats, are probably responsible for about 80 percent of the heart disease in her patients. And while many packaged foods and fast food meals already claim zero trans fats in their products, Roberts noted that current food labeling laws still allow them to add up to half a gram. The FDA’s proposal would stop that.