Trans Fats: Bad for the Heart AND the Brain

We know trans fats are bad for your heart, but new research suggests they may be bad for the brain as well.

Trans fats are known to elevate the LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. In fact, in Dr. Cherry's May 20 KCEO radio program (read the Program Summary or listen to the audio ), he shares the results of a meta analysis of 60 research trials that found the single most effective measure for improving blood fat levels is to replace trans fatty acids with polyunsaturated fats from unhydrogenated oils.

 Now, research from the University of North Carolina suggests that these fats, found in some fired foods, baked goods and processed foods, may also harm the brain

In a study of 87,000 postmenopausal women, those who ate the greatest amount of trans fats (an average of 7 grams per day) were 30% more likely to suffer a clot-related stroke than the women who ate the least trans fats (approximately 1 gram per day).

Although the American Heart Association recommends that people limit trans fats to less than 2 grams per day, eliminating them completely is even better. However, don't count on the Nutrition Facts box if you want to avoid all trans fats. Federal regulations allow food labels to say there's zero grams of trans fat as long as there's less than half a gram per serving. But if you have multiple servings of foods that have up to 0.5 grams each, it can quickly add up. To be safe, read the ingredients list and avoid anything that has hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated oils or shortening.