For a healthy heart, get rid of trans fats

By Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, St. George's University
September 4, 2018

Every year, more than 17 million people die from cardiovascular disease. Trans fats are a major cause of this heart disease epidemic.[1]

These fats are found in snacks, frozen foods, and fried treats. They make food taste delicious. But they’re terrible for our bodies.[2] 

Health officials and doctors must educate patients about the dangers of trans fats — and help people to avoid them.

The research is clear: Trans fats are bad for us. They increase “bad” cholesterol and raise the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.[3]

Consider one extensive review of studies covering thousands of participants published in the journal BMJ. Researchers found that people who ate more trans fats were 28 percent likelier to die from heart disease than those who ate fewer trans fats.[4]

Trans fats are added to so many foods because they’re cheap and spoil less quickly than other fats.[5] They’re used in a slew of yummy products — from cakes to doughnuts to frozen pizza.[6]

Consequently, the average American eats 5.6 grams of trans fat each and every day.[7] People in Egypt, Canada, and Mexico consume even more.[8] Most medical experts recommend having a grand total of zero grams.[9]

Fortunately, many countries and international organizations are working to reduce the use of trans fats. Recently, the World Health Organization developed an initiative called “REPLACE” that will provide nations with a framework for nixing trans fats in food.[10]

The next generation of medical professionals will need to step up as well. They’ll lead the way in educating patients on the dangers of trans fats and developing new policies to reduce them. Here at St. George’s, students practice preventive medicine throughout their studies. So they’re well-equipped to contribute to the fight against these fats. 

In fact, SGU recently partnered with the Grenada Ministry of Education on a School Nutrition Project. Public health professionals assessed the health, nutrition, and lifestyle of those in the local community, while also educating them about the importance of diet and nutrition in living a healthy lifestyle. That includes reducing the morbidity and mortality burdens associated with trans fats.

Trans fats are deadly. It’s time to drop them from our diets.

 

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/trans-fat-ban-world-health-organization-2018-5

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/downloads/trans_fat_final.pdf

[3] http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/FatsAndOils/Fats101/Trans-Fats_UCM_301120_Article.jsp#.W23ilM5KhaQ

[4] http://time.com/3993274/trans-fats-heart-disease/; https://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h3978

[5] http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/FatsAndOils/Fats101/Trans-Fats_UCM_301120_Article.jsp#.W3WjKs5KhaQ

[6] http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/FatsAndOils/Fats101/Trans-Fats_UCM_301120_Article.jsp#.W3WjKs5KhaQ

[7] https://cspinet.org/eating-healthy/foods-avoid/trans-fats

[8] https://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g2272

[9] https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/DGA_Recommendations-At-A-Glance.pdf

[10] https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/14/health/trans-fats-who-2023-intl-bn/index.html

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