The much-maligned trans fats, which are linked to heart disease and obesity, can actually prove to be beneficial in reducing risk factors for these conditions, a new study has indicated.
The study led by Flora Wang, a PhD candidate of University of Alberta found that a diet enriched with trans vaccenic acid (VA), a natural animal fat found in dairy and beef products, can decrease the risk factors related to the conditions.
The findings revealed that VA has the ability to reduce production of chylomicrons, particles of fat and cholesterol that form in the small intestine following a meal and are rapidly processed throughout the body
The role of chylomicrons is considered a missing link in understanding of conditions arising from metabolic disorders.
"Our results provide further evidence of the important role of chylomicrons in contributing to risk factors associated with metabolic disorders," said Wang.
"They also indicate a strong opportunity for using diets with enhanced VA to help reduce these risk factors," she added.
The study was conducted using rats who were given two VA feedings, one short-term (three weeks) and one long-term (16 weeks).
Researchers found that in the long-term trial, total cholesterol was lowered by approximately 30 per cent, LDL cholesterol was lowered by 25 per cent and triglyceride levels were lowered by more than 50 per cent.
Wang said that the findings support a growing body of evidence that indicates natural animal-based trans fat is different than harmful hydrogenated trans fat created through industrial processing.
"As the VA results illustrate, some natural trans fats are not harmful and may in fact be very good for you," she said.