What is trans fat, and what is its effect on health?

You may have heard about the dangers of trans fats. These fats are nutritionally unhealthy. However, you may not know the reason for this. Although consumption of trans fats has declined dramatically in recent years as public awareness has increased and laws restricting the consumption of trans fats have been strengthened, the consumption of trans fats remains a severe public health concern. In this article, we will learn more about the reason for this.


What is trans fat?

Trans fats or trans fats are unsaturated fats. These fats come in both synthetic and natural forms. The natural state of trans fats is found in mammals’ meat and dairy products such as cattle, sheep, and goats.

Of course, dairy and meat consumers should not be too worried. According to several studies, consuming moderate amounts of trans natural fats is not a concern.

The best type of natural trans fat is linoleic acid, which is found in dairy fats. This type of trans fat is probably good for your health. Oral supplements of this fat are also available in the market. On the other hand, consuming synthetic trans fats, also known as industrial fats or hydrogenated fats, is dangerous to health. These fats are formed when vegetable oils are chemically modified and solidified at room temperature. This increases the shelf life of these fats.

What is trans fat, and what is its effect on health?

1- Trans fat and heart

Synthetic trans fats may increase the risk of heart disease. In several clinical trials, consuming trans fats instead of other fats or carbohydrates significantly increased lousy cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL). It decreased good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Is. On the other hand, most fats increase good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.

Replacing trans fats with other fats can dramatically increase total cholesterol and the ratio of bad cholesterol to good cholesterol and hurt health. These two indicators are important risk factors for heart disease. Many observational studies have shown an association between trans fats and an increased risk of heart disease.

2 Trans fats and insulin sensitivity and diabetes

The link between trans fats and the risk of diabetes is not yet fully understood. A large study of more than 80,000 women found that people who consumed the most trans fat were 40 percent more likely to develop diabetes. However, two observational studies showed no association between trans fat intake and the incidence of diabetes. Some controlled studies have examined the effects of trans fats on some risk factors for diabetes, such as insulin resistance. But contradictory results were obtained.

Extensive animal studies have shown that consumption of trans fats may affect glucose and insulin function. A six-year study of monkeys found that a diet high in trans fats (equivalent to 8% of calories consumed) increased insulin resistance, increased visceral fat, and increased fructosamine. Fructosamine is one of the indicators of high blood sugar.

3- Trans fats and inflammation

Excessive inflammation seems to be one of the leading causes of many chronic diseases like heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and arthritis. Two studies have shown that consuming trans fats may increase inflammatory markers. However, another study showed that replacing butter with margarine (vegetable butter) made no inflammatory markers. According to observational studies, the consumption of trans fats is associated with an increase in inflammatory markers (especially in people who have excess fat).

4- Trans fats, blood vessels, and cancer

Trans fats may damage the endothelial layer of blood vessels. In a four-week study in which trans fats replaced saturated fats, good cholesterol was reduced by 21 percent and vasodilation by 29 percent, which is not good. In another study, endogenous layer disorder indices increased with trans fat diets.

Quantitative research has examined the effect of trans fats on cancer. A large study found that pre-menopausal trans fat consumption was associated with an increased risk of menopausal breast cancer. However, according to the results of two studies, the association between cancer and trans fat is fragile.


  1. Fried foods

Depending on the fried oil, fried foods such as French fries may contain trans fats. If you can not eliminate these foods from your diet, reduce their consumption.

Two kinds of margarine (vegetable butter)

Margarine is sometimes marketed as a healthier alternative to animal butter. However, some types of margarine contain 2 grams of trans fat per tablespoon.

  1. Meat and dairy

Trans fats are found naturally in dairy and meat products. Consumption of natural trans fats does not seem to be harmful to health. However, it is best to include lean meats and low-fat dairy in your diet.

  1. Natural oils

Instead of eating foods made from synthetic oils, it is better to use natural oils such as olive oil, corn oil, and canola oil to reduce the consumption of trans fats.

2 Substitute vegetables for meat

Eating a few plant-based meals a week reduces the intake of trans fats. These days, meat substitutes minimize fat intake. Also, some companies are looking to produce meat substitutes with similar but vegetable flavors.

  1. Foods containing monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids

It is best not to replace trans fats with saturated fatty acids. These fats may not be as bad as trans fats, but you should still eat them in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends that saturated fats should not exceed 6% of your daily caloric intake.

It is better to get more of your daily fat from unsaturated sources, which helps reduce bad cholesterol. These fats are mainly found in olive and peanut oil. Other healthy sources of fat include omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts.

Worry about trans fats in your modern diet!

Hydrogenated vegetable oils are one of the largest sources of trans fats in the modern diet because they are cheap for companies and have a long shelf life. While trans fats are found in many processed foods today, governments have recently taken steps to limit the consumption of trans fats.

In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration banned hydrogenated oils in many processed foods. However, this ban has not been fully implemented, and many processed foods still contain trans fats. Other countries have taken similar steps to reduce their consumption of trans fats.

To avoid trans fats, it is essential to read product labels carefully and avoid foods that contain hydrogenated oils. Also, reading product labels may sometimes not be enough. For example, some processed foods, such as regular vegetable oils, may contain trans fats, but their labels or ingredients do not contain trans fats.

Consumption of artificial trans fats may be associated with long-term inflammation, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes (especially for obese and overweight people). Although trans fats in the modern diet have decreased, the average consumption of trans fats in many countries is still a concern.

It is best to use natural fats, whole, unprocessed foods, lean meats, and dairy products to reduce your intake of trans fats.

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