trans fats

  1. The new trans-fat ban

    Ban on trans fats: too little, too late

    At the end of the day, a donut is still a donut, a cookie is still a cookie and a French fry is still a French fry -- and whether they have trans fats or not, they're going to be bad for your health.

    So while everyone's in a hurry to give the FDA kudos for its move to start a trans-fat ban, I'm not about to stand up and cheer. If anything, I think predictions the ban will ultimately prevent 20,000 heart attacks and save 7,000 lives per year are wildly optimistic.

    After all, these dangerous fats are usually found in processed foods -- junk foods like the donuts, cookies and French fries I just mentioned -- and getting rid of the trans fats isn't going to make them much better.

    But even if you believe the trans-fat ban will help make people just a little bit healthier, there are two other problems here.

    First, the trans fat ban doesn't take effect right away -- and the FDA hasn't even announced a timeline for it yet.

    You can bet it'll be a while before it kicks in fully.

    And second, there's a loophole big enough to drive a donut truck through -- because the current FDA rules on "trans fat free" products still allow for deadly amounts of these fats.

    Food makers are allowed to round half a gram of trans fats or less down to zero -- and that's per serving, not per package. Eat just four servings of these "hidden" trans fats per day (not difficult, since serving sizes are often unrealistically small), and you've already hit the 2-gram daily limit recommended for most people without even knowing it.

    And as of right now, this loophole will continue to exist even after the ban takes effect.

    There's one quick and easy way to tell whether your foods contain these hidden trans fats, and that's to read the fine print on the ingredients panel. Anything "partially hydrogenated" is almost certainly going to contain at least a small amount of trans fats.

    And if you want an even simpler way to choose healthy foods, choose foods without any labels at all -- whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats, ideally fresh, organic and local.

  2. Saturated fats kill sperm

    Saturated fats lead to fertility problems

    Junk food kills sperm -- and the more you eat, the more they die, because a key ingredient in fast food can leave men battling serious fertility problems.

    It's saturated fats, and new research out of Denmark finds that men who eat the most suffer a 41 percent plunge in sperm counts and a 38 percent drop in sperm concentrations than men who eat the least.

    And that's not the only way junk foods hit below the belt.

    Everywhere the Western diet of processed foods takes hold, sperms counts plunge -- and saturated fats are just part of the problem. Sugars, for example, can reduce both sperm counts and quality, which is why one study found that men who drink a liter of soda a day have 30 percent fewer sperm.

    BPA, the hormone-like chemical found in the packaging of processed foods as well as the linings of soda cans, can decrease sperm counts and concentration and harm both vitality and motility.

    And the worst junk food fats next to saturated fats, trans fats, can reduce sperm concentrations. (Don't be fooled by packaged foods that claim to be "trans fats free." Thanks to a sneaky loophole in labeling laws, "trans fats free" products can contain as much as 25 percent of the recommended daily limit per serving, but still list "zero" on the ingredients panel.)

    In addition, one of the consequences of a junk food diet -- obesity -- is also a risk factor for low sperm counts and other fertility problems, which is why any plan for good fertility should begin with a good diet.

    Start by replacing saturated fats and trans fats with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids instead. In addition to being better for you overall, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is essential to sperm health.

    But don't stop there. For many men, fertility problems can be a sign of other underlying issues. Speak with a holistic physician for an approach that's right for you.

  3. The trans fat lie harming your health

    Everyone's terrified of trans fats these days, and it's not hard to see why: They've been so vilified that some places are actually banning them. Must be something to it, right? There is -- because the trans fats that come from hydrogenated vegetable oils are every bit as bad as their reputation, and then some: They'll up your odds of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, depression and more.
  4. The key vitamins that will protect your brain

    Some brains, however, shrink faster than others -- and since this rapid loss of gray matter is often a warning sign of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, you want to limit your own shrinkage as much as possible. And the best way to do that is with the vitamins you should be getting anyway.
  5. Junk food kills sperm

    You already know what junk food will do to your waistline -- but for men, a diet rich in poor choices can also hit below the belt. To put it simply, junk food kills sperm the way RAID kills roaches.
  6. The trans fat loophole

    There is one kind of fat we should be avoiding: trans fats that come from partially hydrogenated oils.

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