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Fast-Food Chains to Remove Hydrogenated Fats

Humans are hardwired to avoid danger. We bring life jackets on boats (just in case), hideout underground during tornados and stay off icy roads in the winter.

But, oddly enough, our instinct to stay safe doesn't always extend to our diets. Although we know it's bad for our health and waistlines, millions of us walk into fast-food restaurants every day and place orders for meals filled with partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artery-clogging trans fats. Fast food companies love PHOs because they taste great and can be used over and over again in commercial fryers, so even if you don't realize it—and even if it's not marked on the nutrition label—you're likely consuming the dangerous fats every time you nosh on something that's been fried or soaked in oil. But, thanks to a new law, that won't be the case for much longer.

After a thorough review of the scientific evidence (and there's a lot of it), The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a plan today that will require all food companies (fast food and otherwise) to remove partially hydrogenated oils from their products within the next three years, though the FDA anticipates that many will eliminate them before that date. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean you'll never see a trans-fat ever again. Companies can petition the FDA to let them keep using PHOs, though PHOs will no longer be "generally recognized as safe" for human consumption.

The FDA says this legislation has the potential to reduce coronary heart disease dramatically and prevent thousands of heart attack deaths each year. The taste of some of your favorite items may be slightly different in the future, but that's a small price to pay for better health.

Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh