Beebe Medical Center Goes Trans Fat Free
Beebe Medical Center announces that its Nutritional Services Department no longer serves foods that contain trans fats. This includes the oil used in sautéing, frying and in other means of food preparation.
"Getting rid of trans fats was quite a task and will need to be ongoing," said Kathi Fryling, RD, Director of Nutritional Services. She explained that to get rid of trans fats was a lengthy process that took about 10 months. Department staff scrutinized the ingredients of more than 600 food products the department orders to make sure that none contained trans fat. Those that did had to either be discontinued or replaced.
The Nutritional Services Department operates two restaurants in the Beebe Medical Center main campus on Savannah Road in Lewes, prepares meals for inpatients, outpatients, employees, visitors and physicians in addition to catering meals for hospital meetings and other events. The department also employs a team of medical nutrition therapists, also known as Registered Dietitians (RD), who work throughout Beebe Medical Center providing nutrition support to a variety of customers.
Trans fats - trans fatty acids, are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid. This process not only makes the foods last longer, but unfortunately also makes it act like saturated fat, and thus, more damaging to our cardiovascular system.
Kathi Fryling, RD, said that while Beebe Medical Center has been concerned about trans fats, the final decision to get rid of them came after discussions with Beebe Medical Center physicians, especially Chief of Staff, cardiologist Habib Bolourchi, MD.
"As we have learned more about trans fats, we know that they are more deleterious than saturated fats in respect to coronary heart disease. They have no known benefit," Dr. Bolourchi said. "I as a cardiologist thank Beebe for making this change. It is for the protection of the patients and staff who eat at Beebe Medical Center. We want them to have a healthier diet."
An estimated 30,000 to 100,000 Americans die each because of the trans fat in the food, he added.
Yet, trans fats can be found in many foods - such as in fried foods like French fries and doughnuts, and baked goods such as pastries, piecrusts, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies and crackers. They can be found in stick margarines and shortenings. Small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, including beef, lamb and butterfat.
Food manufacturers have used trans fats because they are inexpensive to produce and last a long time. Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fats can be used over and over.
Another name for trans fats is "partially hydrogenated oils and hydrogenated vegetable oils." It's not unusual to have a product label state "trans fat free," yet a close look at the list of ingredients will reveal that the item has "partially hydrogenated oils." That means that the food product contains less than 0.5 g of trans fat per serving.
"Partially hydrogenated plant oils may contain up to 45 percent trans fat and should not be purchased," Dr. Bolourchi said. He added that for women, each 2 percent increase of calories from trans fat, as opposed to that from carbohydrates increases risk of ovulatory infertility by 72 percent. "You should use non-hydrogenated vegetable oils."
The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of trans fats you eat to less than 1 percent of your total daily calories. That means if you need 2,000 calories a day, no more than 20 of those calories should come from trans fats. That's less than 2 grams of trans fats a day. Given the amount of naturally occurring trans fats you probably eat every day, this leaves virtually no room for industrially manufactured trans fats.
Lourie Cherundolo, MS, RD, a medical nutrition therapist with Beebe Medical Center, said that she regularly counsels patients on how to avoid trans fats at home and when they go out to restaurants. The bottom line is to avoid consuming excess unnecessary calories and fat because moderation is the key to a healthy diet.
"I am also happy to see that here at Beebe we have expanded our offerings of fruit and vegetables and have continued to incorporate more vegetables into our traditional foods," she said.
Beebe Medical Center is a not-for-profit community medical center with a charitable mission to encourage healthy living, prevent illness, and restore optimal health with the people residing, working, or visiting in the communities we serve. For more information, please visit us online at www.beebemed.org