Trans fats are slowly being phased out in the United States. If being depressed, obese, forgetful, irritable and at risk of coronary heart disease were not enough for you to eliminate these harmful fats from your diet – then you may not have a choice anyway, because the FDA plans on having artificial trans fats removed from processed foods.
You can replace trans fats with the healthy fats that can be found in avocados, nuts and coconut oil. The FDA may be phasing out trans fats in the future, but you should be proactive and ban these harmful toxins from your diet now. Here are the top 10 reasons for why you really should stop eating trans fat today.
Trans fat lowers good cholesterol and raises bad cholesterol
Trans fat doesn’t just raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol. It also lowers your good (HDL) cholesterol! A study in the Annual Review of Nutrition found that trans fatty acids raised the plasma level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is bad because it adds deposits of plaque to the artery walls. This makes the arteries less flexible and they become prone to getting clogged. White blood cells respond to this by trying to eat LDL, and thus begins chronic low-grade inflammation in the artery wall. Plaque build-up over time slowly blocks the artery. A heart attack happens when a coronary artery becomes fully blocked at once.
Trans fats may hurt memory
A study found that young adults suffered worse recall when they consumed more trans fats. “The hippocampus is an area of the brain [is] strongly involved in memory,” said study author Beatrice A. Golomb. “It is also particularly vulnerable to cell death in settings of inadequate cell energy.”
The study’s participants who ate the highest amount of trans fat in their diet recalled 10% fewer words than their counterparts who ate the least amount of trans fat. The same results were observed in women.
Trans fats may cause atherosclerosis
In a study done with mice, researchers found that mice had an “increased integration of cholesterol into tissue plasma membranes.” This result indicated that one way trans fats cause atherosclerosis is through the suppression of a growth factor called TGF-beta.
In addition to atherosclerosis, there is promising research which shows that trans fats can also lead to cardiovascular disease, inflammation and diabetes. Some scientists are even looking at the effect of trans fats in utero. In a study done with mice, researchers found that mice exposed to high amounts of trans fats in utero had stunted growth.
Trans fats may make you obese and insulin-sensitive
Male African green monkeys who were fed trans-fatty-acid-rich diets gained significant weight and their intra-abdominal fat deposition increased. Increased fat in the abdominal area can harm the internal organs. The monkeys also had postprandial (after meal) hyperinsulinemia which is an excessive amount of insulin circulating in the blood. To the researches, the hyperinsulinemia indicated that the monkeys were experiencing impaired glucose disposal.
Increased risk of coronary heart disease
An overview of the health effects of trans fatty acids was conducted by researchers for the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. They confirmed that the number of controlled trials and observational studies was enough evidence to link trans fat consumption with increasing multiple cardiovascular risk factors.
The World Health Organization recommends that people should not consume more than a very low intake of trans fatty acids, or less than 1% of total energy intake. Following this recommendation is crucial to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
May increase vulnerability to skin diseases
A study with mice found that the harmful effects of trans fatty acids can also increase the vulnerability of skin disease. The mice were fed either fish oil, soybean oil or hydrogenated vegetable oil (rich in trans fat). The mice were exposed to ultraviolet radiation for two days. The trans fat mice had reduced skin cell viability after UV exposure. The fish oil mice however did not express this. The study showed that perhaps a trans fat diet can make one more vulnerable to skin disease, and a diet rich in omega-3s may prevent it.
Trans fats may make you depressed
Even a young man in sunny Spain may be at risk of depression – and trans fats could be to blame. The study found a detrimental link between trans fatty acids and depression risk. Students who consumed diets high in trans fat had a 48% increased risk for depression.
The study may also show that depression and cardiovascular disease share “common mechanisms leading to similar biological changes.” Interestingly, the students had a relatively low trans fat intake and much of it came from natural foods like cheese and whole-fat milk. This suggests that in regions of the world where more of the population consumes trans fat, like in America, there may be greater repercussions of depression risk stemming from their diet.
Trans fat may cause irritability and feelings of aggression
A study made up of 1,000 men and women found a strong link between aggression and dietary trans fat intake. Golomb, who was also a researcher for this study, noted that, “Trans-fatty acids were a more consistent predictor of aggression than some traditional risk factors such as age, male sex, education and smoking.”
The study looked at the participants’ history of aggression, conflict resolution skills and their self-rated irritability levels. Golomb said that due to the results of the study, perhaps as a society we need to look at the larger impact of trans fats on the public health. She said, “If the association between trans fats and aggressive behavior proves to be causal, this adds further rationale to recommendations to avoid eating trans fats, or including them in foods provided at institutions like schools and prisons.”
Trans fats can also affect emotion regulation
On top of making you more irritable, depressed and aggressive, trans fat may also be linked to less emotional awareness and worse emotional regulation – quite a deadly combination. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found the link between emotions and trans fat. Researchers from the San Diego State University Research Foundation took archival data on just under 5,000 men and women. They found that the more trans fat intake the volunteers had, the more difficulties they had with emotional awareness, clarity and regulation strategies. In turn, volunteers who reported lower trans fat intake had “increased positive and decreased negative affects.”
Trans fats are linked with systemic inflammation in women
A 2004 article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that systemic inflammation is positively linked with trans fat intake in women. Unfortunately, inflammation is linked to a number of serious conditions including coronary disease and diabetes. Heart disease remains the number one killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer, according to the American Heart Association.