Ruminant Trans Fats Ruminations

Most of us have heard that trans fats are bad for heart health. They are so bad that many countries have banned added trans fats, notably partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. 

What about naturally occurring trans fats, those found in dairy and meat from cows and sheep? Are they safe? Or, are we at risk of invoking the appeal to nature fallacy – wrongly assuming anything natural is safe?

This video (Ruminant Trans Fats FB video) serves up the science-based scoop on how ruminant trans fats. I explain how they compare to industrial trans fats and why health experts are keeping a close eye on both types.

I conclude that caution is warranted, and at the very least we should count them as “con” when making food choices:

1. They are very similar, structurally, to industrial trans fats. They are both based on carbon chains of length 18 with a single unsaturated bond.
2. They cause in increase in “bad” (LDL) cholesterol due to their very similar metabolic fate


*Note that none of these claims that it’s cut and dry, merely that there are enough hints of harm to warrant caution – and further studies.

World Health Organization Draft Guidelines…/Draft%20WHO%20SFA-TFA%20guidelin…

Trans fatty acids: are its cardiovascular risks fully appreciated? 
Nestel, 2014

Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular health: research completed?
Brouwer, 2013

Vaccenic acid and trans fatty acid isomers from partially hydrogenated oil both adversely affect LDL cholesterol: a double-blind, randomized controlled trial.
Gebaur, 2015

A prospective study of intake of trans-fatty acids from ruminant fat, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and marine oils and mortality from CVD.
Laake, 2012

Short-term effects of trans fatty acids from ruminant and industrial sources on surrogate markers of cardiovascular risk in healthy men and women: A randomized, controlled, double-blind trial.
Radtke, 2017