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Trans Fatty Acids
by Dr. David Williams

Trans fatty acids are found in many foods such as commercially packaged foods like cookies and crackers, french fries from fast food restaurants, microwaved popcorn, vegetable shortening and some margarine. Any packaged goods that contain "partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils" or "shortening" most likely contains trans fats.

Before the invention of trans fatty acids, we cooked with lard, palm oil or butter which are high in saturated fats. Researchers found that saturated fats increase LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), which increases your risk for heart disease.

Therefore, manufacturers started to use healthier vegetable oils in their food production. As liquid vegetable oils are not stable to heat and go rancid easily, scientists began to "hydrogenate" liquid oils so that they can withstand better in the food production process and provide a better shelf life.

Similar to saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids also increase LDL cholesterol but also lower HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). This combined effect on the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol doubles your chances for heart disease. Researchers estimate that replacement of partially hydrogenated fat in the US diet with natural unhydrogenated vegetable oils would prevent close to 100,000 premature deaths annually.

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