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Apr 16, 2014

New Study says Trans Fat is Associated with Aggressive Behavior

Trans fats may increase one’s risks of heart disease, sudden death, diabetes- and perhaps even aggression.  

Trans fat has been associated with overt aggressive behavior, impatience and irritability.  Trans fats are basically found only one place in nature: animal fat.  The food industry, however, found a way to synthetically create these toxic fats by hardening vegetable oil in a process called hydrogenation, which rearranges their atoms to make them behave more like animal fats.
Although most of America’s trans fat intake has traditionally come from processed foods containing partially-hydrogenated oils, a fifth of the trans fats in the American diet used to come from animal products- 1.2 grams out of the 5.8 total consumed daily.  Now that trans fat labeling has been mandated, however, and places like New York City have banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils, the intake of industrial-produced trans fat is down to about 1.3, so about 50 percent of America’s trans fats come now from animal products.
Which foods naturally have significant amounts of trans fat?
According to the official USDA nutrient database, cheese, milk, yogurt, burgers, chicken fat, turkey meat, bologna, and hot dogs contain about 1 to 5 percent trans fats (USDA chart).  There are also small amounts of trans fats in non-hydrogenated vegetable oils due to steam deodorization or stripping during the refining process.
Is getting a few percent trans fats a big deal, though?
The most prestigious scientific body in the U.S, the National Academies of Science (NAS), concluded that the only safe intake of trans fats is zero.  In their report condemning trans fats, they couldn’t even assign a Tolerable Upper Daily Limit of intake because any amount increases the risk of coronary heart disease.  There may also be not safe intake of dietary cholesterol, which underscores the importance of reducing animal product consumption. 
There has been debate over whether trans fats found naturally in animal products are as bad at the synthetic fats in partially hydrogenated junk food. The latest study supports the notion that trans fat intake, irrespective of the source increases cardiovascular disease risk, especially, it appears, in women. 

Because trans fats are unavoidable on ordinary, non-vegan diets, getting down to zero percent trans fats would require significant changes in diet for most.  The Director of Harvard’s Cardiovascular Epidemiology Program explained that it would be extreme to recommend a vegetarian diet, however, if science were the only factor being considered, that would be the recommendation.