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Originally published September 7 2015

Trans fats increase risk of death by more than a third, study finds

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The consumption of trans fats significantly increases your risk of heart disease and early death, according to a study conducted by researchers from McMaster University and published in the British Medical Journal.

The study found no connection, however, between saturated fat consumption and negative health outcomes.

"For years everyone has been advised to cut out fats. Trans-fats have no health benefits and pose a significant risk for heart disease, but the case for saturated fat is less clear," researcher Russell de Souza said.

Trans fats, also known as hydrogenated oils, are industrially produced by adding hydrogen atoms to unsaturated oils. They have no nutritional value and are added to processed and packaged foods to lengthen shelf life or to give the change the foods' flavor or texture. They have long been known to lower levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol, increase levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and increase the risk of heart disease and death. The new study confirms those findings.

Saturated fats are naturally-occurring fats that play essential roles in the body. They are found in many animal products as well as certain vegetable products such as coconut oil or chocolate.

FDA to ban trans fats?

The researchers analyzed the results of 50 prior studies that looked for connections between the consumption of trans and saturated fats and various health outcomes. They attempted to minimize bias by adjusting for the design and quality of the various studies.

The researchers found that a high consumption of trans fats led to a 21 percent higher risk of heart disease, a 28 percent higher risk of dying from coronary heart disease, and a 34 percent higher risk of early death from all causes.

No such connection was found for saturated fat. Five previous research reviews have come to the same conclusions, finding that trans fats increase the risk of heart disease and death, but saturated fats do not.

In June, the FDA announced that starting in 2018, trans fats will no longer be allowed in the U.S. food supply except in cases where companies have applied for and received a specific exemption for the use of small quantities.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association responded by submitting a request for hundreds of exemptions for food ranging from breakfast cereals to shortening to pie crusts. Some of the amounts requested were substantial.

The United Kingdom removed trans fats from its food supply ten years ago.

Despite evidence, no change to saturated fat recommendations

While the nutritional establishment has now come out strongly against trans fats, the tide has been slower to turn against outdated recommendations to avoid eating saturated fat. Even de Souza shied away from making recommendations based on the saturated fat portion of the new study's findings.

"We aren't advocating an increase of the allowance for saturated fats in dietary guidelines, as we don't see evidence that higher limits would be specifically beneficial to health," he said.

"If we tell people to eat less saturated or trans-fats, we need to offer a better choice. Unfortunately, in our review we were not able to find as much evidence as we would have liked for a best-replacement choice."

Retired nutritionist Tom Sanders of King's College London, who was not involved in the study, echoed the anti-saturated fat party line.

"It would be foolish to interpret these findings to suggest that it is OK to eat lots of fatty meat, lashings of cream and oodles of butter," he said.

According to current health guidelines, no more than 1 percent of daily calories should come from trans fats and no more than 10 percent should come from saturated fat.

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