(photo credit: REUTERS)
Taking a leaf from the prohealth book of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, the University of Haifa has become the first to bar the sale of food containing unhealthful trans fat on campus.
The university, which has a school of public health and is proud of its environmentally friendly “green campus,” also continues its efforts to promote the health of its students, faculty, and other staff. “We see this as part of our commitment to health and will continue to invest much thought and many resources in health promotion,” said university deputy president for administration and CEO Baruch Marzen on Sunday.
Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fats that can be created artificially that have been found to raise the risk of coronary heart disease, increasing the level of undesirable triglycerides and lowering the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good cholesterol”).
In food production, liquid unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils are hydrogenated to produce saturated fats, which are solid and melt at a desirable temperature, extend the products’ shelf life, and stabilize seasonings. Trans fats oxidize easily and are liable to coat the inside of arteries to form fatty plaque.
They have for many years been found in most kinds of margarine, crackers, cookies, salty snacks and fried processed foods. There are alternatives for trans fats, and many countries and organizations around the world have barred or restricted their sale.
During the past year, the university has been checking nutritional values of food sold at campus restaurants and cafeterias and held seminars on health, said Marzen. It has also increased significantly the number of recycling bins, built a new energy center, and raised awareness of pro-health and pro-environmental issues. In the next stage, it hopes to reach new agreements with owners of eating places on campus on providing more-healthful menus.