Americans Cutting the Unsaturated Fats

Trans fattty acids decreasing in the blood

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Now that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found a way to measure blood levels of trans-fatty acids in the blood, they've discovered some good news.

A new study suggests that Americans have decreased consumption of unhealthy unsaturated fats by 58 percent between 2000 and 2009. The study included only white adults, with additional research underway to measure levels among other races and ethnic groups, as well as children.

"Choose baked foods over fried foods."

Trans fats primarily come from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, commonly used in fast or fried foods, or through naturally occurring foods such as milk. Consuming trans fats raises the risk of coronary artery disease by increasing bad LDL cholesterol and lowering good HDL cholesterol.

Christopher Portier, director of CDC′s National Center for Environmental Health, called the decline "substantial progress" in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease in adults. He said the findings show the effectiveness of the agency's initiatives to improve heart health.

During the study, CDC researchers selected 521 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for years ranging from 2000 through 2009.

They examined trans–fatty acid blood levels before and after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration′s 2003 regulation, which took effect in 2006, requiring manufacturers of food and some dietary supplements to list the amount of trans-fatty acids on the nutrition label. Some local and state health departments also took steps to urge consumers to lower trans fat consumption during the study period.

This study is a part of CDC′s National Biomonitoring program, designed to measure more than 450 environmental chemicals and nutritional indicators in individuals.

Overall trans fats decreased by 58 percent. Specifiic trans fat decreases were: elaidic acid, 63 percent; linoelaidic acid, 49 percent; palmitelaidic acid, 49 percent; and vaccenic acid, 56 percent.

In order to lower the amount of trans fats consumed, the CDC suggests carefully reading nutrition labels and choosing foods with low, preferably no, trans fat. The agency also suggests replacing margarine with unsaturated vegetable oil. For those that must use margarine, CDC officials suggest using a soft margarine without trans fat.

The research was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 9, 2012
Last Updated:
February 11, 2012