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Updated 05 March 2013

Not all trans fats are bad

While it is important to avoid trans fats that are industrially produced, the moderate intake of certain trans fats from natural foods, is not regarded as harmful, writes DietDoc.

Many people in South Africa are aware that legislation banning trans fats or fatty acids in our food supply, was published in February 2011. According to Regulation R. 127, the sale of foods which contain more than the specified maximum trans fat content of 2 gram per 100 gram of oil or fat, is prohibited (Government Gazette, 2011).

  • Not all trans fats/fatty acids are the same
  • Not all trans fats/fatty acids are classed as potentially harmful

"But," you ask, "How on earth is this possible, when we have been told that all trans fats are potentially fatal and implicated in the development of a host of diseases, particularly heart disease, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome? We have been told that trans fats are pure poison! And now you come along and say that there are trans fats that are not harmful and that there are some that may even be beneficial! What is the world coming to?"

  • Industrially produced trans-fatty acids” means all the geometric isomers of monounsaturated fatty acids with one or more trans double bonds, i.e. C14:1, C16:1, C18:1, C20:1, C22:1 and polyunsaturated fatty acids with one or more trans double bonds, i.e. C18:2, C18:3, C20:2, C22:2 having non-conjugated, interrupted by at least one methylene group, carbon-carbon double bonds in thetrans configuration and excludes natural trans fatty acids.
  • Natural trans fatty acids” means an unsaturated fatty acid with one or more non-conjugated double bonds, interrupted by at least one methylene groups, in a trans-configuration consisting mainly of vaccenic acid (VA) [18:1(n-7)] or conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

  • “Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)” means bacterial metabolites mainly found in products from ruminant animals, e.g. dairy products and beef, that comprise a family of geometric and positional isomers of linoleic acid with two conjugated double bonds, of which there are two major forms, namely cis9, trans11-CLA and trans10, cis12-CLA.
  • Vaccenic acid (VA)” means 18:1 trans-11 [18:1(b-7)] and is a geometric and positional isomer of oleic acid with a single double bond and is the precursor of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

  • Trans fat” has a corresponding meaning to “Industrially produced trans fatty acids”.

 
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