Recently, while taking a transcontinental train ride across Canada a headline in the London Daily caught my eye. It read, “Too Much Margarine Could Kill You”—and detailed the findings of a new study published in the British Medical Journal and the Edmonton Journal that showed the huge impact that trans fats can have on your health.
This is something I’ve been saying for years, that for heart-healthy eating you want to skip the trans fats. But what really grabbed my attention were the statistics showing just how big of an impact trans fatty acids can have on your health.
In a British Study, Trans Fats Increased the Risk of Death by 34%
For this study, British researchers conducted a meta-analysis looking at trans fat consumption in more than a million people over the course of 8.5 years. What they found is that trans fat consumption is correlated with a 21% increase in risk for cardiovascular disease, a 28% bump in deaths from heart disease—plus, a 34% increase in death from all causes.
In their findings the researchers confirmed that trans fats have no health perks whatsoever—and in fact are detrimental. Plus, they removed the horns, pitchfork, and tail that has been painted vilifying saturated fats for more than 35 years now. Yet, they stopped short of recommending an increase in saturated fat consumption and instead stated that there is no evidence that saturated fats can endanger your health.
As I’ve reported on before, scientific studies have shown that saturated fats are the “good guys”—helping to raise helpful HDL cholesterol, and converting harmful small particle LDL into lesser inflammatory fluffier and larger LDL particles.
What’s Ironic Is That Trans Fats Were Originally Developed to Be More “Heart-Healthy”
For years, saturated fats like butter have deemed a health hazard, and our food industry worked on developing healthier alternatives to butter like margarine. But the reality is that margarine is filled with artificially processed fake ingredients, whereas as butter is sourced from cow’s milk.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather butter my vegetables with a product sourced from a real grass-fed cow, not a test tube. Many industrially produced margarine products contain trans unsaturated fats, mostly from plant oils. These fats cause relentless inflammation which is the real cause of heart disease, and one of the culprits behind many chronic diseases.
Fortunately, the United States is starting to see the light on trans fat safety. In June of 2015, the FDA declared that trans fatty acids aren’t “general recognized as safe” for human consumption. Plus, they gave food manufacturers a three year deadline to remove all partially hydrogenated oils from their food products.
Another positive sign is that the writers of the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines have finally acknowledged that low-fat diets don’t prevent heart disease. But what they didn’t comment on are the many health benefits of saturated fats—in fact, they made no distinction between the different types of fats people should eat, whether partially hydrogenated or saturated fats.
But there does seem to be movement at the U.S. Department of Agriculture that I do applaud: proper signage on packaging, and public health education that our national policy of total fat reduction needs restructuring.
What Is the Best Heart-Healthy Diet for You?
The biggest, most beneficial health move we can all make is to move away from the heavy-handed consumption of processed fats like inflammatory omega-6s and trans fats. Instead, you want to move to a diet that’s rich in omega-3 essentially fatty acids, and natural, organic saturated fats like those in butter, dairy products, and grass-fed beef.
You also want to fill your diet with other healthy food selections like fresh fruits and vegetables—choosing fresh foods over processed convenience foods. I also recommend following the guidelines for my Pan Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM) diet.
I think most of you would agree, this type of heart-healthy diet is a “no-brainer.” It’s also a relief that finally our own government policy may follow common sense guidelines.
Now it’s your turn: Have you eliminated trans fats from your heart-healthy diet?