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December 10, 2003

Trans-fatty acids - dangerous

According to research, ingesting just one gram of trans fats daily... increases a person's risk of heart disease by about 20 per cent. Yet, Canadians ingest, on average, more than 10 grams of trans fats daily.

Trans fatty acids, a man-made oil described by a leading nutritional scientist as a "secret killer," are present in significant quantities in fast foods and other restaurant fare, according to tests commissioned by The Globe and Mail and CTV News.

An analysis conducted by an independent laboratory found trans fats in every single restaurant product tested.

The products included chicken nuggets, battered fish, spring rolls, Danish pastries and even foods thought of as healthy fast-food alternatives such as pizza.

According to the tests:

* Five small chicken nuggets from Kentucky Fried Chicken contained almost four grams of trans fats; * A Tim Hortons apple Danish contained almost three grams; * Two spring rolls purchased at Ontario's Chinese food chain Ho-Lee-Chow had almost two grams of trans; * A single piece of fish from an order of fish and chips at restaurant chain Casey's Bar and Grill contained more than one gram; * A slice of double-cheese pizza from Pizza Pizza had almost half a gram of trans.

The Centre for Science in the Public Interest has done similar testing on fast foods, and came up with equally alarming results. The centre found, for example, that:

* A large order of Burger King fries contains six grams of trans fats, compared with four grams for Wendy's; * A&W onion rings also contain six grams of trans; * A Tim Hortons sour cream glazed doughnut clocks in at five grams of trans, while the Krispy Kreme counterpart has just over four grams; * An order of Burger King hash browns has a whopping eight grams of trans; * A chicken pot pie at Swiss Chalet serves up five grams of trans; * An original cinnamon bun from the Saint Cinnamon chain of bakeries and mall locations, contains four grams of trans. * An Admiral's Feast - a platter of fried shrimp, scallops, clams and fish - at Red Lobster contains a heart-stopping 22 grams of trans fats.

Trans fats have been linked to a greatly increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. Read more