Published on November 08, 2013

Change The Oil To Benefit Health of Quad Cities

Since 2010, the Genesis Heart Institute has been asking Quad Cities restaurants for an oil change to help improve the health of their customers.

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took the first step toward potentially eliminating artificial trans fat from all foods. The FDA could determine that partially hydrogenated oils should be banned from use in foods without approval.

The Genesis Heart Institute has recently renewed its efforts to eliminate the use of trans fat in Quad Cities restaurants by asking restaurants to take a pledge to make their menu choices trans fat free.  Restaurants pledging to eliminate trans fat will receive a sticker for their entry and will be listed on the Genesis Heart Institute web site.

Restaurants and food services are now looking more often for the label TFF (trans fat free) on products to provide their customers with a healthy alternative to the use of artificial trans fat.  Naturally occurring trans fat sources include meat and dairy products, but natural trans fat is not included in the Quad Cities initiative, nor in the FDA proposal.

"Restaurants participating will be providing a great service to the health of their customers,'' said Dr. George Kontos, a cardiovascular and general surgeon, Genesis Medical Center, Silvis. "Saturated and trans fats are primary dietary causes of high cholesterol, which is a primary factor in the development of heart disease.

"Trans fat is the most dangerous type of dietary fat. It increases bad (LDL) cholesterol and lowers good (HDL) cholesterol and it has no known health benefits.''

One of the criticisms of using trans fat-free oils for frying is that the taste is compromised.

"I doubt that anyone can really taste the difference between foods fried in oil with trans fat and trans fat free oils,''' said Toby Christianson, owner, Woodfire Grill. “We've been using trans fat free oils for several years, and I don't think anyone has ever told us they can taste a difference."

Genesis Health System’s food and nutrition service, like Woodfire Grill, eliminated the use of artificial trans fat several years ago.

Foods commonly containing artificial trans fat are foods fried in commercial cooking oils.  Trans fat is also in vegetable shortening, margarine, cakes, crackers, cookies, pies, pastries and buns.

Many large food producers and national restaurant chains have already eliminated the use of artificial trans fat. Trans fat can still be found on the grocery shelves in frosting, pies, frozen pizza and even microwave popcorn.

The FDA said a total ban on the use of trans fat in the American food supply could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease.

There is additional evidence of health benefits from the reduced use of artificial trans fat in the United States.  According to the FDA, trans fat intake among Americans has decreased from 4.6 grams per day to one gram per day in 2012.

To become part of this healthy initiative, restaurants in the Quad Cities are receiving information and a letter with their pledge to be trans fat free.  For more information about the program, call Tyler Mitchell at (563) 421-9272, or call (563) 421-9275.

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