Natural Trans Fat Less Harmful than Artificial Version
Written by Administrator
Trans fat lowers “good” HDL cholesterol and raises the “bad” LDL
variety. Some municipalities have responded by banning trans fat from
restaurants and many food makers have stopped using trans fat as an
ingredient. But there’s some trans fat normally present in meat and
dairy products that these bans won’t touch. Fortunately, this “natural”
trans fat is not a big health concern, reports the July 2008 issue of
the Harvard Health Letter.
used to convert oil into solid trans fat by adding hydrogen—occurs in
nature, too. Bacteria in animals’ stomachs hydrogenate the fatty oils
from animal feed, for example.
Two dairy industry–funded studies published in the March 2008 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
compared the effects of artificial and natural trans fat. One study
found that eating artificial trans fat lowered HDL in the women
studied, while natural trans fat increased HDL. There was no difference
in how the two different types of trans fat affected men. The other
study found that large amounts (3.7% of calories) of either natural or
artificial trans fat produced similarly bad effects on heart
disease risk factors. Relatively small amounts (1.5% or 0.8% of calories) of
natural trans fat didn’t have an effect.
The dairy industry wants
the natural trans fat in its products excluded from the rules for
labeling trans fat, so the results from these studies help make their
case—and warrant some healthy skepticism, as do many industry-sponsored
investigations. On the other hand, there are other reasons to believe
that natural trans fat is less harmful than the artificial version.