Why Trans Fats Are Bad

Higher levels of dietary trans fats have been linked to higher blood levels of small, unhealthy particles of LDL cholesterol. Trans fats (trans fatty acids) are formed during hydrogenation, the process by which oil is transformed from a liquid state to a more versatile, solid fat for use in thousands of processed foods.

LDL cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream as constellations of small, medium, or large particles.

Since they carry around most of the cholesterol to parts of the body, they’re thought of as “bad.”

Smaller particles are likely to deliver more cholesterol to the blood vessel wall than larger ones, so even relatively small amounts of them can lead to problems, even in people with normal blood levels of LDL cholesterol.

In a 6-month study, 36 volunteers were provided with each of five different experimental diets with varying levels of trans fatty acids (trans fats) for 35-day periods.

The diets higher in trans fats led to increased levels of the small, dense LDL-cholesterol particles, the type of LDL more likely to produce plaque in arteries.

The findings of this study reinforce the importance of consuming a diet that is low in trans fats to avoid unfavorable affects on cholesterol levels.

Science Update. Agricultural Research Service, USDA, ARS.

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