If you've read many food labels over the past few years, you're familiar with trans fats. "No Trans Fat" is a popular slogan to help attract consumers and give them a sense that a product is healthy. We avoid trans fats because of the physical affect they can have on the body, increasing the risk of heart disease. But did you know that they can also affect you mentally? New research shows that trans fats can actually make you sad.
First, what is a trans fat? Trans fats are oils that have been chemically-altered (through a process called hydrogenation) from their original liquid states, into solid shortening. The process increases the shelf life of the oil and improves the texture of the food to which the oil is added. One study found that a 2% increase in trans fat consumption increased a woman's risk of heart disease by 93%. The physical reasons for avoiding trans fats are well-documented.
A new study, published in the journal PLoS One, followed thousands of people over a six-year period to analyze their diet, lifestyle and medical conditions. Researchers found that "the people who ate the most trans fats, which are commonly found in pastries and fast food, had a 48% increased risk of depression compared with people who did not eat trans fats." Those people who consumed higher amounts of "good" (polyunsaturated) fats had a lower risk of depression.
This research was conducted in Spain, where trans fats are not a significant part of the typical diet. Researchers feel the results could be even more significant in a country like the United States, where the average intake of trans fats is high. Although the research can't prove a definite cause/effect relationship at this point, the results are strong enough to warrant further investigation.
Find out how to Translate those Trans Fats to learn more about how to avoid them in your diet.
What do you think? Are you surprised to learn that trans fats could have an affect on your mental health?
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