Trans fats increase the risk for heart disease through negative effects on cardiovascular risk factors which leads to an increased risk for heart attacks. Trans fats cause an increase in the “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, a reduction in the “good” (HDL) cholesterol, and worsens the total cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol ratio compared to cis-unsaturated and saturated fats. Inflammatory makers, such as C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, were elevated in obese women with higher vs. lower intakes of trans fats. Endothelial function (blood vessel health) was worsened in clinical trials when subjects consumed trans fats in the place of monounsaturated fats or carbohydrates.
Higher trans fat levels in red blood cells was associated with a 47% increased risk for sudden cardiac death in a case-control study. Some studies also show an increased risk of diabetes in women who consumed more trans fats, but this is not as consistent as the heart disease data. It is estimated that eliminating trans fat from the food supply would avert between 6-19% of heart disease-related deaths per year, totaling up to 228,000 deaths.
This information is sourced from the article, “Trans Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease,” published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian et al. 2006. Please click here for access to the abstract of the paper.