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Americans Still Consuming Too Much Trans Fat

Update Date: Oct 22, 2014 04:05 PM EDT

The latest numbers revealed that even though Americans are eating less trans fats and saturated fats today than they did in the past, the consumption rates are still higher than recommended by experts.

For this study, the researchers examined a set of six surveys from the Minnesota Heart Survey that took place between 1980 and 2009. The sample size included more than 12,000 people who were between the ages of 25 and 74 from the Minneapolis-St. Paul region.

Over the past 30 years, trans fat consumption fell by 32 percent in men and by 35 percent in women. Despite this drop, 1.9 percent of men's daily calories and 1.7 percent of women's daily calories consisted of trans fats. The American Heart Association only recommends men and women to keep that percentage at less than one percent.

"To make your diet more in line with the recommendations, use the nutritional panel on food labels to choose foods with little or no trans fats," Mary Ann Honors, Ph.D., lead study author and an epidemiology researcher at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, said.

Men and women's intake of saturated fats also declined. However, the researchers calculated that people's saturated fats intake accounted for about 11.4 percent of their daily calorie intake. The American Heart Association recommends that saturated fat consumption should only make up five to six percent of people's daily calories.

"There's a downward trend in trans and saturated fat intake levels, but it's clear that we still have room for improvement," said Honors reported in the press release.

The researchers also found that people's average intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which are the good fats, is still low. People should aim to increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids because they can improve heart health. Trans fats and saturated fats increase levels of low-density lipoprotein, dubbed the bad cholesterol and decrease levels of high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol), which can lead to a greater risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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