November 28, 2014

Artificial and Natural Trans Fats: They Are Different

By now, almost everyone has heard about trans fats and how unhealthy they are. In fact, studies have shown that trans fat consumption causes at least 30,000 deaths in the United States every year. The government has not set an upper limit on trans fat consumption because there is no safe intake amount.

But there are two kinds of trans fat: natural and artificial. Natural trans fats occur naturally in dairy products and meat, made by a enzymatic process in the guts of ruminant animals. Artificial trans fats are man-made by bubbling hydrogen through polyunsaturated oils, making it a solid. And scientists think that natural trans fats are good for you.

A study published in the March 2008 volume of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, called the TRANSFACT study, found that in women, consuming trans fatty acids from natural sources caused significant increases in HDL cholesterol levels (the good stuff).

And a study conducted by the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta found that a diet high in “trans vaccenic acid”,  a natural animal fat found in dairy and beef products, can reduce risk factors associated with heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.”

So the Canadian beef and dairy industries have created a new website called Natural Trans Fats that highlights the differences between these two fats. At this time, food labels require that both types of trans fats be declared on food ingredient labels, which some researchers think is misleading for the consumer. The labels of products such as yogurt and beef must indicate that they contain trans fats, even though they have no artificially-produced trans fats.

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