Trans fat: why intake should be minimized
Artificial trans fats came into fashion in the 1950s, as partial hydrogenation was manufacturing’s solution to reducing animal and tropical fats. The trans fat molecule has a characteristic bend that allows tight packing, resulting in a higher melting point that is beneficial for stability, texture, and mouth-feel of many commercial products. Today, based on early work by Mensink and Katan1 and more recent analyses by Mozaffarian et al2 and others,3-5 we know that trans fat consumption confers significant risks to the body.
Where it’s found
Effects on the body
ADA recommended daily intake
"Foods containing industrially derived TFA [trans fatty acids] should be minimized....TFA replacement strategies [should] not result in a higher TFA and SFA."3
Conclusions from the literature
Trans fat created from commercial food processing and manufacturing serves no biologic purpose,2-4 and can be virtually eliminated from the food chain, as seen in Denmark.6,7 Counseling clients is key, because it is easy to quickly add small amounts of trans fats, even in foods labeled "0g."
References: 1. Mensink RP, Katan MB. Effect of dietary trans fatty acids on high-density and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in healthy subjects. N Engl J Med. 1990;323:439–445. 2. Mozaffarian D, Katan B, Ascherio A, et al. Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 2006;354:1601–1613. 3. Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada. Dietary fatty acids. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107:1599–1611. 4. Eckel RH, Borra S, Lichtenstein AH, Yin-Piazza SY. Understanding the complexity of trans fatty acid reduction in the American diet: American Heart Association Trans Fat Conference 2006: report of the Trans Fat Conference Planning Group. Circulation. 2008;115:2231–2246. 5. Hu F, Stampfer M, Manson J, et al. Dietary fat intake and the risk of coronary heart disease. N Eng J Med. 1997;337:1491–1499. 6. Leth T, Jensen HG, Mikkelsen AA, Bysted A. The effect of the regulation on trans fatty acid content in Danish food. Atheroscler Suppl. 2006;7(2):53–56. 7. Stender S, Astrup A, Dyerberg J. Ruminant and industrially produced trans fatty acids: health aspects. Food Nutr Res. 2008;52 doi: 10.3402/fnr.v52i0.1651. Epub 2008 Mar 12. Accessed January 2, 2009.