The Influence Of Lipids On Human Health

1858 words - 8 pages

The Influence of Trans-fatty acids on human health.

The prevalent perception of lipids is that they not only lead to obesity, but also contribute to an increased risk of dyslipidemia (cholesterol), atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, diabetes and cancer. However, lipids are an essential dietary component vital to human health. (1) Some lipids are healthier than others, for example saturated fats are more associated with an increase in cholesterol and disease whereas mono-saturated and poly-saturated fats actually improve cholesterol levels in the blood. Omega-6 and omega-3 fats play a crucial role in growth and development as well as brain function in the human body, whereas ...view middle of the document...

(3) This variance in chemical structure results in a difference in their effect on biological processes in the human body.


Human consumption of trans-fatty acids comes from food products that encompass partially hydrogenated fats, animal fats and dairy fats. (3) Trans-fatty acids are produced by the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils. This is a procedure that solidifies vegetable oil to margarine and other commercial cooking products. Trans-fatty acids are preferred amongst the major food companies due to their increased shelf life and stability. (4)Trans-fatty acids from dietary consumption, like other types of fatty acids are stored in adipose tissue. The trans-fatty acid composition stored in the adipose tissue can be examined by analysing the fatty acid content in a biopsy. (3)


The major effects of trans-fatty acids on serum fat levels in the body have been assessed in scientific trials. The intake of trans-fatty acids increases the levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL’s), decreases the levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL’s) and increases the percentage of overall cholesterol to the HDL; this in turn increases the risk of coronary heart disease. (3, 4)

Trans-fatty acids also elevate triglyceride (TG) levels in the plasma. When contrasted with the consumption of other lipids an elevated level of lipoprotein (a) was observed as well as a reduction in the molecular size of LDL; both of which can elevate the risk of coronary heart disease; thus trans fatty acids exhibit unhealthy effects on plasma levels in the human body. (4)

One study investigated whether the increase in low-density lipoprotein to high-density lipoprotein ratio, negatively influenced the risk of coronary heart disease by studying dietary data from the partakers of a Nurses Health Study. (5) The study consisted of calculating the consumption of fatty acids from questionnaires based on their dietary intake that were completed by 85 095 women who were not suffering from coronary heart disease, stroke, dyslipidemia or diabetes during 1980. (5) Throughout the following eight years, there were 431 cases of new coronary heart disease patients, which included both myocardial infarction events as well as death as a consequence of coronary heart disease. (5) After examining the cases, scaling and modification of data (which included age and the patients overall energy consumption) took place in order to uncover whether the consumption of fatty acids was directly related to an increased risk of coronary heart disease. (5) Patients who developed coronary heart disease or exhibited associated risk factors, utilised additional control such as the use of multivitamins, a decreased intake of saturated and monosaturated fat, linoleic acid, exogenous cholesterol, increased intake of vitamins E as well as C, carotene and fiber; however these controls did not alter the relative risk...

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