Danes dine on healthier fast food

first_imgDenmark is the only country that has limited trans fats so sharply, passing a law in 2003 that took effect in 2004 to make it illegal for any food to contain more than 2 percent of trans fat. Troels Nyborg Andersen is among Danes who feel less guilty about their fast-food habit since the government restricts trans fats. “I know trans fats are bad, but you don’t think about that when you’re hungry,” said the 27-year-old Copenhagen native, chomping a hamburger. “It’s good that the Danish government got rid of trans fats so that I don’t have to worry about it.” That was the rationale that motivated the trans fat limit. “We wanted to protect people so that they would not even have to know what trans fat was,” said Dr. Steen Stender, one of the leading Danish experts who lobbied for the anti-trans fat law. Preserving the delicacy of traditional Danish pastries was a major concern at Copenhagen’s famed La Glace cafe, renowned for its pastries and cakes. When the trans fat law kicked in, its bakers began experimenting. “There was a bit of a crisis,” admitted Marianne Stagetorn Kolos, La Glace’s owner. The first attempts were disastrous. The trans fat-free margarines melted too soon, destroying the flakiness of the 81-layer pastries. “Everything was flat,” Stagetorn said. Luckily, the problem was solved by switching margarine suppliers. Customers such as Anne Petersen haven’t noticed. The pastries “taste just as good as they always did,” said the 59-year-old sales assistant, who favors the raspberry version. “If it wasn’t for the law, I never would have known that there wasn’t any trans fat.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Two years ago, Denmark declared war on artery-clogging oils, making it illegal for any food to have more than 2 percent trans fats. Offenders now face hefty fines – or even prison terms. The result? Today, hardly anyone notices the difference. The french fries are still crispy. The pastries are still scrumptious. And the fried chicken is still tasty. Denmark’s experience offers a hopeful example for Canada, New York City and other places where officials are considering setting limits on the dangerous artery-clogging fats. Trans-fatty acids are typically added as partially hydrogenated oils to cookies, margarine and other processed, packaged and “fast” foods. They are cheaper to produce than healthier oils – such as canola, corn or olive oil – and give foods a longer shelf life. Producers also argue that removing them from processed foods will change tastes and textures beloved by consumers. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’However, trans fats have been called the tobacco of the nutrition world. They lower good cholesterol, HDL, while they raise bad cholesterol, LDL. Even eating less than 5 grams of trans fat – the amount found in one piece of fried chicken and a side of french fries – per day has been linked with a 25 percent increased risk of heart disease. “No other fat at these low levels of intake has such harmful effects,” said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist at Harvard’s School of Public Health. It is still too early to tell if removing trans fats from food in Denmark has improved the country’s health. The Danish health ministry reports that cardiovascular disease has fallen by 20 percent in the past five years. However, similar drops in heart disease have been reported in other countries where smoking has been restricted and where industry has made efforts to improve some foods. In countries that are making no effort to regulate the amount of trans fat in food, such as Hungary and Bulgaria, heart disease rates have continued to climb. last_img

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