Trans Fats are Killing You

Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Trans fats are the man-made, partially hydrogenated fats that food manufacturers use to prolong shelf life in approximately 75 percent of the food in the standard American diet. These killer fats poison your body, and I warn all of my patients, especially those with heart risk factors, to avoid them.

These fats appear in everything from margarine and shortening to most pre-packaged baked goods, fried snacks, frozen products such as fish sticks and French fries, microwave popcorn, commercial salad dressings, and pancake mixes. Trans fats also show up in many fried foods, because the high heat involved in frying leads to the partial decomposition of fat and the formation of toxic by-products.

Remember the cookies your grandmother made? They went stale within days. Today’s cookies live practically forever, due to partially hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenation may lengthen shelf life, but I can assure you it does the opposite for your life. These unnatural oils are associated with increased free radical damage, which in turn causes inflammation, disease, and age-related changes. They also seriously compromise good cholesterol levels and raise Lp(a).

In short, they ignite cardiovascular problems, specifically heart disease, and help set the inflammatory stage for other diseases. As if that’s not enough, they also interfere with your body’s ability to process and utilize the good, essential fatty acids—such as fish oil—that function as anti-inflammatory agents.

Fortunately, it’s become a little easier to identify foods with trans fats since food manufacturers were required to reveal the trans fat content on the labels of all food products. Now it’s up to all of us, the consumers, to read labels even more carefully and avoid foods with trans fat and other unhealthy ingredients.

For more information on cardiovascular nutrition, visit

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