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Wendy’s changes cooking oil after FDA urgings

Corn and soy blend contains zero grams of trans fat and less saturated fat.
Sunday, October 1, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:55 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

Hungry from your shopping trip at Columbia Mall but don’t want to compromise your health by eating a burger at the food court? There’s some news for health conscious Columbians who want fast food. Wendy’s recently introduced healthier oils in its menu items, including french fries and breaded chicken items.

With the new oil — a corn and soy blend containing zero grams of trans fat and less artery-clogging saturated fat — a large order of Wendy’s fries drops from 7 grams of trans fat to 0.5 grams, while the fried chicken items now have zero grams of trans fat per serving.

“We wanted to find an oil that would hold up while preserving the quality and taste of our product,” said marketing manager Julie Eaton.

The change came after a report from the Food and Drug Administration urging restaurants to promote healthier foods. Wendy’s started cooking with the new oil just one month after Frito-Lay announced its switch to NuSun, a nontransgenic sunflower oil, now used in preparation of a variety of Frito-Lay chips — including Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos and Tostitos.

NuSun cuts saturated fat in Lay’s chips by 66 percent and significantly reduces total cholesterol levels, since sunflower seeds are naturally low in saturated fat. A 2005 Penn State study sponsored by the National Sunflower Association, which developed NuSun, linked the new oil to greater decreases in LDL cholesterol levels than those resulting from olive oil (www.sunflowernsa.com).

NuSun is not a genetically modified oil. It also does not have any known side effects, unlike the formerly popular Olestra, which was used in WOW chips.

But despite its lowered saturated and trans fat content and positive effects on cholesterol levels, NuSun will not change the width of your waistline.

“It won’t cut calories,” said Patricia Kearney, nutritionist at PMK Associates Inc., a nutrition communications company. “It’s not for weight loss, it’s for heart health,” she said.


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