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What’s healthy and what’s not?

Nearly a year after the FDA mandated the removal of artificial trans fats from processed foods by 2018, a new consumer survey from Coast Packing Company, a Vernon, Calif., maker of animal fat shortenings, and Ipsos Research indicates many consumers remain confused about the entire subject of trans fats in the American diet.

The results confirm that there is a lack of understanding about trans fats among almost two-thirds of American adults: 64 percent either think that all trans fats are unhealthy (36 percent) or don’t know about the health aspects of trans fats in foods at all (28 percent).

While almost five times as many respondents know that artificial trans fats in foods are unhealthy while natural trans fats are neutral to healthy (24 percent) – compared to 5 percent who incorrectly think that natural trans fats are unhealthy and artificial trans fats are neutral to healthy – the vast majority simply aren’t aware that there are different kinds of trans fats and that not all trans fats are toxic.

The survey of 1,000 adults, conducted in late February, examined awareness of trans fats in the American diet, specifically the differences between artificial trans fats – which are manufactured and added to food during processing – and those trans fats that occur naturally in foods derived from animals.

Because artificial trans fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, the Institute of Medicine, a division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, recommends a trans fat intake as low as possible. In June 2015, the FDA made it official, determining that trans fats in processed foods are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe and ordering their phase-out within three years.

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