From Joy Pape, RN BSN CDE WOCN
Certified Diabetes Nurse Educator
I'm glad the general public is being made more aware of the dangers of trans fats and that soon,
they will have to be listed on the nutrition labels. I'm sorry it will take so long, but then it's
hard to believe they haven't been listed all these years. Talk about truth in labeling!
There is a strong link between diabetes and heart disease. Studies indicate that trans fats may
increase the risk of diabetes. I agree with the researchers who recommend decreasing the use of
trans fats and instead, replacing them with monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats such as
Omega 3s. They report this can decrease the risk of diabetes (and therefore heart disease) by as
much as 40%.
The Nurses Health Study showed that women who consumed the greatest amount of trans fat in their
diet had a 50% higher risk of heart attack, compared to women who ate the least amount of trans fat.
Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoprotein A, (the "bad cholesterols") and
decrease HDL cholesterol, (the "good cholesterol.") Many people who have diabetes have increased
LDLs, triglycerides, lipoprotein A, and a low HDL. Why in the heck would they want to ingest
something that would only make matters worse when they can make smarter health choices? ?if they
I can't argue with The Institute of Medicine (IOM) who consider no amount of trans fats safe.
My recommendation? Read labels and avoid foods with trans fats (hydrogenation.) Keep all foods
in your house trans fat free. Don't freak out if you find you've been served a food containing
trans fats at a meal out. But once you know better, don't make a habit of it.
From Gil Wilshire, M.D., FACOG
President and Chief Scientific Officer,
Trans-Fats and Health
To my knowledge, no one has ever performed a study where humans were purposely given lots of trans-fats, created a
matched group of similar people who consumed very few of them (and were otherwise the same), and then followed the
two groups for enough years to see who died first. This is a fancy way of saying that we have no "gold standard"
of evidence against dietary trans-fats: a randomized, prospective, controlled human clinical trial.
In the absence of these data, we do have a large amount of information showing: 1) a strong association between
trans-fats and disease, and 2) plausible metabolic and biochemical pathways that make a logical connection between
There are at least five population-based studies that have shown a strong association between
increased trans-fat consumption and a variety of diseases. In addition, basic scientific investigation of the
metabolic pathways taken by trans-fats as they wind their way through the body has clearly shown many ways in
which these molecules "gum up the works." More specifically, these fats have harmful effects on the
cholesterol-carrying particles in the blood, and they have adverse effects on the signals of inflammation.
Inflammatory pathways probably contribute to blood vessel damage and cancer activation.
In summary, I would like to quote Drs. Ascherio and Willet from their article:
(Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Oct; 66
(4 Suppl): 1006S-1010S):
"... a series of metabolic studies has provided unequivocal evidence that trans fatty acids increase plasma
concentrations of low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and reduce concentrations of high-density-lipoprotein
(HDL) cholesterol relative to the parent natural fat. In these same studies, trans fatty acids increased the
plasma ratio of total to HDL cholesterol nearly twofold compared with saturated fats. On the basis of these
metabolic effects and the known relation of blood lipid concentrations to risk of coronary artery disease,
we estimate conservatively that 30,000 premature deaths/y in the United States are attributable to consumption
of trans fatty acids. Epidemiologic studies, although not conclusive on their own, are consistent with adverse
effects of this magnitude or even larger. Because there are no known nutritional benefits of trans fatty acids
and clear adverse metabolic consequences exist, prudent public policy would dictate that their consumption be
minimized and that information on the trans fatty acid content of foods be available to consumers."
I could not say it better.
From Mark Uhrmacher
VP of Sales & Marketing
Expert Foods, Inc.
The medical community is nearly uniform in its condemnation of trans fats as unhealthy for a variety of
reasons. So, why do people use them? Basically, they make manufacturing easier. Trans fats are
engineered to have precise melting points making them much, much better for automating a process than
other types of fats/oils. Using this property many companies have developed large-scale production
processes that yield the tasty, cheap products Americans love to eat. Removing these ingredients
requires a significant change in processing which costs money for development AND a higher production
cost thereafter. Many companies don?t really want to make the change but fear having significant
trans fats on their nutrition labels as the regulations change.
Honestly, I think removing trans fats will increase the cost of the items that rely upon them
for current production but will yield a healthier, better end product.
From Daniel Maiullo
Fmr VP Keto Foods / Corporate Counsel
Saturated fats are "saturated" with hydrogen. That is, they have taken up all they can hold.
These fats are solid at room temperature and are more physically stable and generally easier to work
with in baked goods. Vegetable oils are made more like saturated fats by "hydrogenation", a
process of chemically adding hydrogen to liquid fat (oil) in the presence of a catalyst.
The degree of hydrogenation determines the physical and chemical properties of the final product.
A fat that is partially hydrogenated still contains a significant amount of double bonds in its
molecules, thereby rendering it more susceptible to oxidative damage. Partial hydrogenation
also results in many cis bonds being converted to trans bonds. This is why when you see
"partially hydrogenated" oils on a food label, you can bet that it contains a significant
amount of trans fat and should be avoided.
Copyright © October 2004 Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2004 Neil Beaty for Low Carb Luxury