We like to help our patients maintain the health of their spines by sharing with you basic essential nutrition. I have been giving advice on nutrition for the last 15 years and like to share them with you. Our first highlight is on the government’s new rules regarding trans fatty acids or Trans Fat in Singapore, more commonly known as margarine, hydrogenated fat or vegetable shortening. If you have cholesterol or heart problems this article may interest you.
Trans fats will contribute to your chance of getting cardiovascular disease or a heart attack. If you have margarine in your fridge, I suggest you throw them away. So let me give you some of the facts and then some good news (finally) regarding trans fats in Singapore and where some eateries may still be using trans fat including hawker centers and restaurants.
Harvard University School of Public Health says that “we know that eating trans fats increases levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, “bad” cholesterol), especially the small, dense LDL particles that may be more damaging to arteries. It lowers levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles, which scour blood vessels for bad cholesterol and truck it to the liver for disposal. It also promotes inflammation, an overactivity of the immune system that has been implicated in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Eating trans fat also reduces the normal healthy responsiveness of endothelial cells, the cells that line all of our blood vessels. In animal studies, eating trans fat also promotes obesity and resistance to insulin, the precursor to diabetes.
In the Speech by our Minister for Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, at the National Heart Week/ World Heart Day, he said, “According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 30% of all global deaths. By 2030, it is estimated that almost 23.6 million people will die from cardiovascular diseases every year and the largest increase in the number of deaths will occur in the South-East Asia Region. In Singapore, ischemic heart disease accounted for 18.7% of all deaths and was the 3rd leading cause of admissions in 2010.
In other words, your heart and your blood vessels are going to clog much easily leading to strokes. You know it is a big deal when the government is going to enforce all food packages with labels to include information on trans fat in Singapore to help you make a choice when buying food at retailers. I applaud and am thankful they are doing this as I believe it will be a significant positive health impact to Singapore residents. As a national service man, I know they serve margarine in the curry puffs and margarine spread for bread to us when I was serving In-camp training. I hope they make those changes there too. When you can, avoid deep-fried food, trans fats, and increase consumption of monounsaturated oil, like olive oil, and use omega-3 fatty acid supplements to balance your omega 3:6 ratio.
Interesting Facts about Trans fat in Singapore.
How much trans fat is too bad for our health?
Answer: Amy Khor, Minister of State for Health and Manpower, said: “According to HPB’s 2010 National Nutrition Survey, three in 10 adult Singaporeans exceeded the World Health Organisation’s recommended daily limit of two grams of trans fat. “Two thirds of these people are younger adults aged 18 to 39 years, of which 10 per cent had trans fat intakes of more than double the recommended limit.
Is trans fat in Singapore really a concern or are we just following the trend from other countries?
Answer: CEO of HPB, Ang Hak Seng, said: “A 4 gram increase in daily trans fat intake is associated with a 23 per cent increase in the incidence of coronary heart disease. “This amount of trans fat intake is equivalent to the quantity of trans fat found in two doughnuts, prior to bakeries adopting the new guidelines. This is a cause for concern.”
How much trans fat is going to be allowed according to the regulation?
Answer: The regulation limits trans fat to no more than 2g per 100g product for fats and oils supplied to local food service establishments and food manufacturers, as well as fats and oils sold in retail outlets. That means it is not entirely “trans fat free.”
When is Singapore planning to implement the new trans fat regulation?
Answer: The Health Promotion Board (HPB) says Singapore’s food industry is on track to meet new trans fat regulation by May 2013. For now when you buy breads some of them already have no trans fat. When you get peanut butter watch out for those with trans fat. NTUC have some good 100% peanut butter with no trans fat in them. Buy those.
How will the trans fat regulation impact our health when we eat in Singapore?
Answer: “With the total switch to fats and oils meeting trans fat requirements by 2013, the average intake among Singaporeans who had previously exceeded the trans fat limit will be reduced by at least 60 per cent from 3.7 grams to 1.6 grams. This means for these Singaporeans, their risk of getting heart disease will be cut by 10 per cent.”
What about foods that are not labelled, how will I know they have trans fat?
Answer: This is a great question. What I eat at the hawker center to order Prata, I would simply ask what oil they were using to make the Prata. Many of them buy their Prata dough from suppliers which may also use trans fat. Basically you have to find out for yourself. Would it be great if the government could start giving grading to food retailers on the quality of food like ” A GRADE for NO Transfat Use, NO MSG” for example.
What are the most common food sources that have trans fat in Singapore?
Answer: Trans fats in Singapore are found primarily in foods containing shortening, margarine or partially hydrogenated oils such as commercially prepared baked and fried items. Sources of trans fats consumption by Singaporeans include pastries, cakes, doughnuts and biscuits. When you order a bread toast you won’t know if the bread has trans fat but you can ask if the “butter” they gave you was real butter or was it margarine.
Source: Singapore Online News
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