Avoiding trans fats, is one that certainly shouldn’t come as a shocker to health-conscious readers, but it absolutely can’t be overlooked either.
Trans fats are man-made “fake” fats and the absolute worst fats of all. There terrible fats should not be eaten in any quantity.
Trans Fats Promote Heart Disease & Inflammation
There is no safe level of intake of trans fats. Trans fats are not only terrible for your heart as they increase “bad” LDL cholesterol, decrease “good” HDL cholesterol, increase triglycerides and impair artery dilation but they also dramatically increase inflammation. (1)
Trans fats block healthy fats from being converted into helpful inflammation fighters and cause your body to produce more inflammatory messengers (2), which increase blood clotting, increase blood pressure and worsen inflammatory conditions such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, asthma, etc.
Even just a small amount of trans fat consumption makes a big fat difference. In a 1993 study in the prestigious medical journal Lancet, almost 90,000 healthy women were followed for eight years. There was a 50 percent increase in heart attacks and deaths in those women who ate just 5.7 grams per day of trans fats compared to women who ate only 2.4 grams per day of trans fat. Statistically, this difference was highly significant. (3) Again, there is no acceptable amount of trans fat consumption on an anti-inflammatory diet.
Pro-Inflammatory Trans Fats Make You Fat
Trans fats decrease your body’s sensitivity to insulin and make it more difficult for your body to burn fat. Additionally, trans fats have been shown to interact with PPAR receptors and actually slow down your metabolism (4). Any food that promotes weight gain also promotes inflammation in a vicious cycle.
Avoiding Trans Fats on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Although it is true that food manufacturers have drastically reduced trans fats in the packaged food supply in response to public outrage in recent years, these terrible fake fats still lurk in processed foods, margarines, fried foods, restaurant food and shortenings.
Although you should be avoiding all processed foods and fried foods as part of an anti-inflammatory diet anyway, you still need to be super savvy about reading food labels and ingredients and avoid any foods containing “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.
You can’t rely on the Nutrition Facts either; you absolutely must read the ingredients. This is because under current law, foods containing less than ½ gram of trans fats per serving are still allowed to be marketed as “trans fat free”. This is absolutely unacceptable from a health standpoint because it takes only a minuscule amount of trans fat to increase inflammation, reduce your production of good inflammatory fighters, alter your cholesterol profile in a negative way and promote weight gain.
The bottom line is you need to trash the trans fats once and for all if you are serious about following an anti-inflammatory diet.
We recommend checking out The Omega Diet as a great introduction to the science behind anti-inflammatory eating and living.
- de Roos NM, et al. “Replacement of dietary saturated fatty acids by trans fatty acids lowers serum HDL cholesterol and impairs endothelial function in healthy men and women.” Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2001 Jul;21(7):1233-7.
- Han SN, et al. “Effect of hydrogenated and saturated, relative to polyunsaturated fat on immune and inflammatory responses in adults with moderate hypercholesterolemia.” J Lipid Res. 2002 Mar;43(3):445-52.
- Willett WC, et al. “Intake of trans fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease among women.” Lancet. 1993 Mar 6;341(8845):581-5.
- Kang K, et al. “Trans-10, cis-12 CLA inhibits differentiation of 3T3-L1 adipocytes and decreases PPAR gamma expression.” Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2003;303(3):795-799.