Trans fatty acids
Holub, Bruce J. Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
- Origins, food sources, and intake levels
- Effects on cardiovascular/diabetes disease risk
- Food labeling and regulatory policies
- Alternatives to trans fats
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Trans fatty acids (TFA), so named because they contain a trans rather than a cis configuration at the unsaturation sites within the fatty acid structure, have become an increasing health concern to the public and health professionals alike as their levels in typical diets in North America and elsewhere have increased markedly during the past decade. Unlike naturally occurring monounsaturated (monounsaturates) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (polyunsaturates) as found in many liquid nonhydrogenated vegetable oils, which have cis double bonds at their unsaturation sites, TFA have trans double bonds at the unsaturation sites within their structure. [Unsaturated acids can be converted to saturated acids by the addition of hydrogen. Hydrogenation is the chemical binding of hydrogen to the double bonds of unsaturated fatty acids, carried out in the presence of hydrogen, pressure, and typically nickel as a metal catalyst. In cis bonds, adjacent carbons are on the same side of the molecule; in trans bonds, they are on opposite sides (see illustration).] Whereas “natural” monounsaturates and polyunsaturates have curvilinear structures and are liquid at room temperatures, the “industrial” TFA are typically linear structures that are solid fats at room temperatures due to their much higher melting points. Thus, TFA approach saturated fats in many of their physical-chemical properties.
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