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How Trans-Fats Lead To Heart Disease By Slowing Blood Flow

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Trans Fats and Heart Disease

Scientists have recently discovered how trans-fats lead to heart disease and heart attack by slowing blood flow. According to the researchers, consumers should also be wary of food labels touting no trans-fats, because those labels are misleading, placing us at risk for sudden blood clots from consuming oils, margarines and foods that contain hidden trans-fats.

University of Illinois emeritus veterinary biosciences professor Fred Kummerow studies lipids (cholesterol). He would like to see trans-fats completely banned. Kummerow says, "The arteries of someone who dies from atherosclerosis look like old scrub boards as a result of the formation of plaques. They look corrugated, and this plaque buildup continues to the point where it will stop blood flow." He adds that trans-fats contribute to each of those causes of heart disease.

Professor Kummerow is 94 years old. He has spent six decades studying the harm to blood flow from consuming the wrong types of oils in our diet, which should not be replacing omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids fuel the body, and are critical for good health and heart disease prevention.

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Trans-fats can show up in food even though labels say there is none. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils contain trans-fats. The FDA allows food labels to say zero grams of trans-fats are present in our food. In truth, anything less than one-half gram of trans-fat per serving is permissible, may be misleading to consumers, and can lead to poor health from unhealthy blood vessels and heart disease.

Kummerow’s newest study shows that trans-fat interferes with an enzyme that converts of the essential fatty acid linoleic acid into arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid is needed to produce another enzyme that keeps blood flowing, called prostacyclin. The results are a set-up for heart disease.

"This is the first time that trans fatty acids have been shown to interfere with yet another part of the blood-flow process," Kummerow said. This study adds another piece of evidence to a long list that points to trans fats as significant contributors to heart disease, he said.

Read your food labels carefully. If partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are present, you may be setting yourself up for heart disease and heart attack. The newest study shows trans-fats slow blood flow in ways not previously known, in addition to promoting inflammation of the blood vessels that promotes plaque buildup leading to heart disease. Kummerow believes the FDA should completely ban trans-fats to save lives.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign