The Biological Effects of Saturated Fatty Acids Compared with Trans Fatty Acids.


The Biological Effects of Saturated Fatty Acids Compared with Trans Fatty Acids

Clearly, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats and oils have no place in the human diet.

Obvious sources such as margarine, “spreads,” vegetable shortening, and products clearly labeled as containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils are easy enough to identify and avoid.

Few people realize, however, that current labeling laws in the United States do not always require manufacturers to list the presence of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats in foods and that their presence is far more ubiquitous than suspected.

Virtually all prepackaged snack foods, chips, cookies, and baked goods contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, often even when they claim to be trans fat–free.

They can get away from this because a certain amount of trans fat per serving is allowed before the manufacturer is required to disclose it on the label.

All microwave-popping corn, for instance, contains partially hydrogenated oils, yet many claim to be trans fat–free.

It’s a simple, unscrupulous loophole and far from harmless.

Nearly all fast-food restaurants use these oils, and all commercial canola and soybean oils contain some level of trans fats as a by-product of their deodorization process.

Clearly, in this instance, reading labels carefully may not be enough.

Here is a quick comparison of the biological effects of saturated fatty acids compared with trans fatty acids, just for the heck of it, compiled from a lecture given by Mary Enig, Ph.D., at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in October 2001.

  1. Saturated fatty acids raise the levels of HDL cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol, whereas trans fatty acids lower the levels of HDL cholesterol.
  2. Saturated fatty acids lower the blood levels of the atherogenic lipoprotein(a), whereas trans fatty acids raise the blood levels of lipoprotein(a).
  3. Saturated fatty acids conserve the good omega-3 fatty acids, whereas trans fatty acids cause the tissues to lose these omega-3 fatty acids.
  4. Saturated fatty acids do not inhibit insulin binding, whereas trans fatty acids do inhibit insulin binding.
  5. Saturated fatty acids are the normal fatty acids made by the body that do not interfere with enzyme functions, such as those of delta-6 desaturase, whereas trans fatty acids are not made by the body and interfere with many enzyme functions, such as those of delta-6 desaturase.
  6. Some saturated fatty acids are used by the body to fight viruses, bacteria,
  7. and protozoans, and they support the immune system, whereas trans fatty acids interfere with the function of the immune system.

For countless years, scientists studying the effects of dietary fat lumped together saturated and trans fats as being the same thing, making no delineation between the two.

Nearly all research vilifying the biological effects of saturated fat has been greatly tainted by this and has been misleading consumers and healthcare experts alike for decades.


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