The topic of trans fat is a hot one. As well as it should be, according to the Food and Drug Administration, Americans eat an average 4.7pounds of it a year.
It is very likely if you eat out, or buy prepared food from the grocery store you are consuming it. What you're eating according to Lindsey Hines, is unhydrogenated oil mixed with added hydrogen. Combining the two ingredients makes the oil more solid and usable for food processing. Hines is a clinical dietitian at St. Joseph and says trans fats are used to give food a longer shelf life. But it also offers some less than pleasant side effects. "It raises your total cholesterol and your bad cholesterol, but actually decreases your good cholesterol," Hines said. And there you have the root of all the talk about trans fats.
Kentucky Fried Chicken's announcement on Monday to start using zero trans fat oil is an attempt to familiarize consumers with this concern and keep them as customers. It could also be a way to stay ahead of possible legislation outlawing serving foods with artificial trans fats. New York City is holding public hearings until December on a plan that would ban the fat from every restaurant in the city.
No matter what the law ends up regulating, Hines says you still have to consider what you're eating. She says KFC's decision could end up having a positive impact, but the food isn't completely healthy. "The thing that you have to think about is that fried food is still going be high in fat regardless of whether it's high in trans fat," said Hines.