Trans Fats Consumption Declines, Aluminum-Dementia Link Debated & Other News

The amount of trans fats Americans eat has declined over the last 30 years, says a news study reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The bad news: We’re still eating more trans fats than recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA).

Saturated fats and trans fats have been found to increase the risk of heart disease, raising bad cholesterol levels and lowering the “good” cholesterol.

Between 1980 and 2009, the consumption of trans fat fell by about a third, while the intake of saturated fats also declined. But both are still too common in our daily diets.

The AHA recommends that trans fats, which are found in partially hydrogenated oils and specified on nutrition labels, be kept to 1 percent or less of total calories consumed.  Saturated fats are found in products derived from animals, such as meat and full-fat dairy products, and in some tropical oils such as coconut or palm oil.

Consumption of saturated fats dropped, but still accounts for about 11.4 percent of daily calories for men and women, the study found. The AHA recommends limiting saturated fat to about 6 percent of total 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 Mary Ann Honors, Ph.D., lead study author and an epidemiology researcher at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis.

Trans fats are mainly found in processed, fried and commercially baked foods such as pastries, pizza, pies, cookies and crackers.

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                                                                                                             —John Fernandez

Study Links Aluminum to Alzheimer’s 

Does aluminum (more commonly known as “aluminum”)— a popular household metal — contribute to Alzheimer’s and other kinds of brain disease? A growing amount of evidence points to a clear link between aluminum and brain disorders, according to a new research paper published in Frontiers of Neurology, a medical journal.

“It is inevitable both today and in the future that an individual’s exposure to aluminum is impacting upon their health and is already contributing to, if not causing, chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s,” wrote  Christopher Exley, a professor at Keele University in the United Kingdom. “This is the logical, if uncomfortable, consequence of living in the aluminum age.”

Several factors, he argues, enable complacency about the toxic threat of aluminum:

  • Long-term danger vs. short-term exposure.  The greatest danger of household aluminum is long term as toxic levels build up over time. However, “acute,” short-term toxic or fatalities linked to aluminum exposure are rare. This gap between cause and effect promotes complacency, Prof. Exley says.
  • Everyday acceptance of aluminum: From household products to other daily tools, aluminum is commonplace, the author says.  “The most significant factor driving complacency about the potential dangers of aluminum is its omnipresence in modern life.” Aluminum can be found in cosmetics, medicine and household appliances.

Aluminum and the Brain

Aluminum gets past the barriers of blood that protect the brain. Levels of the metal add up as we age, and the increased exposure raises the risk of a variety of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease the study shows.

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                                                                                              —Sharon Harvey Rosenberg


Healthy Hub at West Kendall Baptist Hospital

The Healthy Hub, a free community resource, is now open at West Kendall Baptist Hospital. Located in the hospital’s main lobby, the Healthy Hub offers free health screenings (BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol) and a consultation with a medical professional. Information about free community resources for healthy living is also available. To learn more, call 786-467-3030.


Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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