Dr Urman Quoted in LA Times About FDA Ban of Trans-fats
- Posted on: Nov 7 2013
Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute cardiologist, Dr. Mark Urman, is quoted in the Los Angeles Times (and Medscape) about healthcare providers applauding the FDA move to ban artery-clogging trans fats. It is a move that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as FDA officials feel that could help prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year, and up to 20,000 heart attacks.
Trans fats are artificial and are mostly found in processed foods, especially things such as cookies, baked goods, microwave popcorns and frozen pizzas. They are created when food manufacturers add hydrogen to liquid oils. They are also sometimes used by restaurants that use the fats for frying. These partially hydrogenated oils extend the shelf-life of foods and can enhance taste to consumers. However, it is now clear that they reduce the “shelf-life” of humans.
Scientific studies have established that trans fats increase LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol) and reduce “good” or HDL cholesterol. This contributes to the buildup of plaque in arteries and, thus the risk of cardiovascular disease which is the No. 1 killer in the nation. In addition, trans fats contribute to weight gain and obesity. Heart-clogging trans fats have been slowly disappearing from grocery aisles and restaurant menus in the last decade. The Food and Drug Administration is acting to essentially finish the job by no longer recognizing partially hydrogenated oils, the source of trans fats, as “generally safe.”
“They may make products taste better, but they don`t appear to have any positive or beneficial nutritional value,” said Dr. Mark Urman, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and board member of the American Heart Assn. “It`s clear that people`s health is not as good when they`re taking in too many trans fats.”
…Urman, of the heart association, said he too was pleased with the action, and hoped that it would help patients to make healthier decisions when it came to their diets.
“I think there`s still some residual confusion about fats in general,” Urman said. “I think we`re starting to appreciate that not all fats are necessarily bad, especially when taken in moderation. Mono unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, appear to have beneficial effects and aren`t necessarily bad for you.”
Urman said that while he was encouraged by the prospect of a ban on trans fats, he was also concerned about what might ultimately replace them.
“We need to make sure it`s not replaced by something else that`s not good for us,” Urman said. “The main message ultimately has got to be about getting Americans to understand how to have well-balanced healthy diets. It`s not just about avoiding the things that are bad for them; it`s also making sure they have a lot of the things that are good for them.”
As an example, Urman said the only thing people didn`t need to be moderate about was their intake of fruits and vegetables.
“The more fruits and vegetables you have the better, and the more variety you have the better,” he said.
Trans fats have been around for about a century (it was a prominent ingredient in Crisco for decades) and once were thought to be more healthful than lard, butter and other animal fats that they often replaced. But several decades ago, evidence emerged that they caused higher LDL levels and higher risks of obesity, heart attack and stroke. The FDA started requiring processed food manufacturers to disclose the presence of trans fat in the last decade. New York City barred restaurants from using trans fat starting in 2007 and even most nationwide fast-food companies have removed it from their cooking and frying oils including McDonalds. California was the first state to restrict trans fat use in restaurants in 2008.
…Mark Urman, MD, a member of the cardiovascular disease prevention committee of the American College of Cardiology, said he was thrilled by the today`s FDA announcement.
“We are hopeful and confident that [a ban] will improve cardiovascular health in the United States,” Dr. Urman told Medscape Medical News. “Hopefully, the food industry will come up with healthy alternatives to trans fats.”
It`s not as if the proposed FDA policy is catching the industry off guard, said Dr. Urman, a clinical professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“We`ve given them a warning over the past 5 years about trans fats,” he said. “Most companies have already started going in the direction of reducing them. [They`ve] had time to come up with alternatives.”
Click here to read the full Los Angeles Times article.
Click here to read the full Medscape article.
Click here to read about heart-healthy diet options
Click here to read more about high or abnormal cholesterol levels and how it contributes to coronary artery disease.