Trans-fats are just not healthy

This is the first of a series of articles that follow from our recent Healthy Eating Workshop. If you missed it, the lectures are available. Please use the Contact button above to write us if you are interested.

In our Healthy Eating Workshop for the last 16 years, the intention always has focused on encouraging others to take a different approach to their health through simple diet changes. We can do so much by adjusting the foods we eat and how we care for ourselves on a daily basis. The workshop provides a strait forward approach, looking at the most common issues causing the greatest harm to our wellness.

Our focus for this particular series is to discuss recent peer-reviewed medical articles that add to the ongoing support for the kinds of recommendations we make in the Healthy Eating Workshop. Although many of these recommendations come from working directly with people over the years, and seeing great results, it is still important to show that medical science continues to reflect these findings in research studies and publications.

Today we discuss an article that reviews various studies looking at the ever increasing evidence associating the consumption of trans-fats with the diseases killing us all at the moment. The source material comes from an article published just a few weeks ago in the British Medical Journal, Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies, BMJ 2015;351:h3978.

The article on trans fats is available at: or through our site HERE.

The conclusion of the article, from a review of multiple high-quality review studies, is that eating saturated fats such as eggs, butter, coconut and palm oils, cheese, chocolate and animal meats are NOT associated with an increased risk of heart and vascular disease, stroke, hypertension and diabetes. However, there IS an association of increased risks of these life-threatening and life-shortening conditions if you eat trans-unsaturated fats (trans fats). Although trans fats do occur naturally in small amounts in beef, the studies show that the risk is actually GREATER from consumption of industrial (manufactured) trans fats.

The Take Away Lessons?

Avoid all trans fats. Slowly this message is sinking in globally, but the process moves slower than you’d think. For many, understanding what to look for poses a challenge.

There are good studies from the IOM (Institute of Medicine), who have shouted from the rooftops about the health risks of trans fats since 2002 – that there are NO safe levels of trans fats. Negative health effects can be demonstrated with even tiny amounts in the diet. If you are reading labels, look for the ingredient “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil”, which is the major culprit that puts trans fats into the processed foods you buy.

Also in 2015, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) declared that partially hydrogenated oils be removed from the list of foods called “GRAS”, or Generally Recognized as Safe. This means that manufacturers will have to either remove trans fats from processed foods by 2018, or get special permission to include them from the FDA.

We also talked about this a few weeks ago in our article Why Your Voice Matters: The Food Industry Actually Wants to Save Trans Fats, so you can check that out as well.

Can It Be That Simple?

So is that it? Just remove trans fats and all will improve in your diet? Not exactly.

Be very mindful. If you change your diet to follow these suggestions, replace the foods you remove with something healthy. For years we’ve taught about Healthy Fats, but understanding how these work takes some practice to figure out. Check out our ebook Eat More Fat; Live Longer for ways to do this. Get the Book Here.

Replacing unhealthy fats with vegetable oils can be a problem, especially if you use these oils for cooking. Liquid vegetable oils generally are not bad in and of themselves, but they do not tolerate the heat of cooking. When heated many of these oils become trans fats, because the heat changes the chemical nature of those oils. As a result we take something not particularly harmful and make it so.

Cook with butter, coconut oil, palm oil or organic rice bran oil – all of which tolerate the normal heat of cooking. Although the temperature at which Olive Oil changes to a Trans Fat is higher than many vegetable oils, it still changes. This is why we recommend the other oils for cooking. In addition you can cook with broth and then add the oil afterwards for flavor. This way the heat does not transform the structure of the oil.

Be very mindful as well that you do not substitute in high amounts of carbohydrates to replace the processed foods and unhealthy fats you give up. We will talk more on this in our future articles in this thread. We also will look at the additional evidence on the health eroding effects of eating too much sugar, and the increasing understanding of how a high-carbohydrate diet – and the resulting insulin resistance it produces – leads to an increase incidence of not just diabetes, but heart attack, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma and cancer.

We have much to discuss and I trust you will join us as we continue to explore these important issues. If questions arise for you, do not hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below.

To your health.

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