Trans Fats

by | Last updated Dec 24, 2021 | Fats, Foods

You could improve your heart health by making your own desserts—especially desserts that are fruit-based & whole grain-based. How? Use cold-pressed oils instead of regular oils, margarine, or saturated fats like lard or butter. Why? The usual refining of oils requires repeated heating that compromises the quality of fats so that they have adverse effects on blood vessels.

There is another reason to make your own desserts. The typical commercial desserts have partially hydrogenated fats that are detrimental to health. Trans fat, a byproduct of hydrogenation of vegetable oils, substantially increases the risk of high levels of LDL cholesterol, heart disease and other health hazards. Sources of trans fat include: French fries; frozen, battered, or fried foods; commercial cookies and pastries; most kinds of margarine, and many non-dairy creamers. Although most trans fats are present in an artificial form in industrially-produced pastries and fast food, they are naturally present in certain whole milk products. The trans fats that naturally exist in foods are minimal in amount and do not seem to pose the health hazards as the trans fats in processed foods.

Trans Fats & Blood Vessels

Consumption of trans fats increases the “bad” LDL cholesterol. Trans fats lower “good” HDL cholesterol more than saturated fat does and they decrease antioxidant activity in the body. Trans fats have been linked to increased inflammation in the arteries.1 Trans fats have been found to change the composition of cell membranes, making them more leaky to calcium.2 Inflammation, high LDL cholesterol, and calcified arteries promote the development of atherosclerosis.

Trans fats also impair the ability of the blood vessels to dilate and can affect insulin resistance.3 Insulin resistance happens when the cells do not respond appropriately to insulin. Consequently, the blood sugar level rises. Blood vessels can become insulin resistant too. When insulin binds to its respective insulin receptors in our arteries, it sends a signal that helps prevent the buildup of fatty plaques that can cause arteries to harden. Rodent studies show insulin-resistant arteries develop atherosclerotic plaques that are twice the size of those on normal arteries.4

Trans Fats & Blood Flow

Trans fats also reduce blood flow. How? Trans fats displace – and cannot replace – the essential fatty acids that the body cannot manufacture. The essential fatty acids–linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega-3)—help to control blood flow.5 Trans fats decrease the amount of valuable prostacyclin needed to keep blood flowing.6 Prostacyclin inhibits undesirable platelet clumping. Platelet clumping increases the risk of a clot forming.

Trans Fat Consumption & the Blues

Consumption of dietary trans fatty acids is associated with irritability, impatience, and aggression.7 Stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Impatience is a risk factor for hypertension. High blood pressure pushes cholesterol into the arteries.

Consumption of a liberal amount of trans-fats increases the risk for depression by 48%.8 How does this relate to heart disease? Symptoms of depressive disorder are causally associated with the risk of coronary heart disease.9,10

Trans Fat Consumption & Memory

Consumption of trans fats has not only been linked to mood problems, it has been also linked to impaired memory in adults under age 45.11 Junk foods, fast foods, and diets rich in trans and saturated fats harm the synapses, the mircroscopic communication sites of neurons. Synapses are important for memory and learning. They respond to environmental and dietary influences.12

Rodent studies show that the adverse effects of trans fatty acids on the brain and mood can be passed down from generation to generation. Indeed, one rodent study showed chronic consumption of trans fats over two generations can facilitate the development of mania-like behavior and lead to memory impairment and emotionality.13

Trans Fats & Your Shape

Diets rich in trans fat can actually cause a redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen and lead to a higher body weight even when the total dietary calories are controlled. For example: Male monkeys fed a western-style diet that contains trans fat had a 7.2 percent increase in body weight, compared to a 1.8 percent increase in monkeys that ate monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil. What is even worse: CT scans showed that the monkeys who consumed trans fats deposited 30% more fat in their abdomen than those who consumed olive oil even though all the monkeys were given the same amount of daily calories, with 35 percent of the calories coming from fat. Extra belly fat generates a lot of pro-inflammatory compounds that fuel atherosclerosis and cancer.14


Eating even minimal amounts of trans fats is linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. One study showed that the decline for the combined conditions of heart attack and stroke was 6.2 percent in areas that had a ban on trans fat for three or more years.15 Trans fat consumption reduces optimal brain functioning.15

Criteria for healthy desserts:

  • Fruit and whole grain based
  • Uses dried fruit, whole organic cane sugar or honey
  • No saturated or partially hydrogenated fats
  • Not fried
  • Uses only cold-pressed oils.
  • Eaten as a treat once a week

Disclaimer: The information in this article is helpful and is educational. It is not the author’s or authors’ or Wildwood Health Institute’s intent to substitute the blog article for diagnosis, counseling, or treatment by a qualified health professional.

Copyright through December 2023. All rights reserved by Wildwood Sanitarium, Inc. 


© 2024, Wildwood Sanitarium. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.


  1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Trans Fats Hinder Multiple Steps In Blood Flow Regulation Pathways.” ScienceDaily. 17 June 2009.
  2. Hadj Ahmed S. Correlation of trans fatty acids with the severity of coronary artery disease lesions. Lipids Health Dis. 2018 Mar 15; 17(1):52.
  3. Golomb BA. A Fat to Forget: Trans Fat Consumption and Memory. PLoS One. 2015; 10(6): e0128129.
  4. Cell Press. “Your arteries may be suffering insulin resistance, too.” ScienceDaily. 6 May 2010. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100504124340.htm
  5. Yates news.illinois.edu/view/6367/205902
  6. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Trans Fats Hinder Multiple Steps In Blood Flow Regulation Pathways.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2009.
  7. Golomb BA.Trans Fat Consumption and Aggression. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (3): e32175 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032175
  8. Sánchez-Villegas A. Dietary Fat Intake and the Risk of Depression: The SUN Project. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (1): e16268 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016268
  9. European Society of Cardiology (ESC). “Symptoms of depression causally linked to coronary heart disease, not to stroke.” ScienceDaily. 3 February 2014 www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203191727.htm
  10. American Heart Association. “Depression linked to higher heart disease death risk in younger women.” ScienceDaily. 18 June 2014.
  11. Golomb BA. A Fat to Forget: Trans Fat Consumption and Memory. PLoS One. 2015; 10(6): e0128129.
  12. Wolpert S. Scientists learn how what you eat affects your brain — and those of your kids. newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/scientists-learn-how-food-affects-52668. July 9, 2008.
  13. Trevizol F. Cross-generational trans fat intake modifies BDNF mRNA in the hippocampus: Impact on memory loss in a mania animal model. Hippocampus. 2015 May;25(5):556-65.
  14. Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. “Trans Fat Leads To Weight Gain Even On Same Total Calories, Animal Study Shows.” ScienceDaily. 19 June 2006. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060619133024.htm
  15. Eric J. Brandt. Hospital Admissions for Myocardial Infarction and Stroke Before and After the Trans-Fatty Acid Restrictions in New York. JAMA Cardiology, 2017; DOI: 10.1001/jamacardio.2017.0491

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