The World's Healthiest Foods

Trans Fat Increases Heart Disease Risk Much More Than Saturated Fat

This study, conducted by researchers at the Division of Human Nutrition and Epidemiology, Wageningen University, the Netherlands, measured the effect of trans fat on blood vessel function and cholesterol levels and compared it to that of saturated fat. According to the results, the trans-fat diet reduced blood vessel function by 30% and lowered HDL ("good")-cholesterol levels by about one fifth, compared with the saturated-fat diet.

The researchers fed 29 volunteers either a diet containing trans fats or one containing saturated fat for four weeks. Then those who had received the trans fat diet were given the saturated fat diet, while those who had been given the saturated fat diet were given the trans fat diet for an additional four weeks. The "Trans-diet" contained 9.2% of its calories from trans fatty acids; while the "Sat-diet” derived the same percentage of calories from saturated fat.

While on the trans fat diet, the volunteers' beneficial HDL cholesterol was 21% lower than after they were on the saturated fat diet. In addition, when volunteers who had been given saturated fat were placed on the trans fat diet, blood vessel function, specifically in the brachial artery, was reduced by 30%. Both changes—the drop in “good” HDL cholesterol and the impairment in blood vessel function—are signs of increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Other research, quoted by Dr. Mary Enig in another Healthy Way of Eating story, Children’s Allergies Increased by Trans Fats, has shown that trans fats, like saturated fats, also raise LDL ("bad")-cholesterol levels.

This combination of negative effects produced by trans fats suggests that these fats increase the risk of heart disease even more than saturated fats.

Trans fat is found in fried foods and processed foods such as cookies, crackers and pastries, while saturated fat is primarily found in meat, butter and some dairy products. In the U.S., the major sources of trans fats in the diet are processed foods such as ready-made baked goods and fried fast foods. Since these foods are not labeled, consumers cannot know how much trans fat they are getting when they eat these products. Experts estimate, however, that trans fat accounts for 4% to 7% of dietary fat intake in the U.S.

Avoiding trans fat is easy with the help provided by George Mateljan on the World’s Healthiest Foods website. Simply by enjoying the exceptionally delicious, easy recipes George has created to ensure your delight in the taste of healthful food as well as their health benefits, you will eliminate trans fats—and all their health risks—from your meals. Not sure where to begin? Simply click How to Use This Site.

For some quick, easy and delicious recipes that will help you enjoy your healthy way of eating, take a look at the World's Healthiest Foods' Recipes. Click Recipes. Want a recipe for a certain food? Click on the Recipe Assistant, select the food you'd like to cook from the Healthy Foods List, and click on the Submit button. A list containing links to all our recipes containing the food chosen will appear immediately below.

And don’t worry if you’ve never cooked before, each recipe contains linked to George’s Food Prep Tips, video clips that will teach you everything you need to know.

Reference: de Roos NM, Bots ML, Katan MB. Replacement of dietary saturated fatty acids by trans fatty acids lowers serum HDL cholesterol and impairs endothelial function in healthy men and women. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2001 Jul;21(7):1233-7.

This page was updated on: 2004-08-25 17:41:13
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation