A diet with enriched levels of trans vaccenic acid (VA) -- a natural animal fat found in dairy and beef products -- can actually reduce risk factors associated with heart disease, diabetes and obesity, according to a researcher from the University of Alberta.
The benefit was due in part to the ability of VA to reduce the production of chylomicrons, which are particles of fat and cholesterol that form in your small intestine following a meal. They are then rapidly processed throughout the body, and may be related to a variety of conditions arising from metabolic disorders.
Experiments on rats showed that VA in the diet could lower total cholesterol by approximately 30 percent, LDL cholesterol by 25 percent, and triglyceride levels by more than 50 percent. Unlike what many health “experts” would have you believe, animal fats are your friends. Be cautious of anybody advising you otherwise, as this study adds just one more reason why you should be including them in your diet.
This study does throw a twist in our conventional understanding of trans fat, though, as the natural trans fat vaccenic acid (VA) actually appears to be beneficial.
These natural trans fats are nothing like their man-made, highly processed cousins. In fact, according to fat experts Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, VA is an interim product that the animal then converts to conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a highly beneficial cancer-fighting component of animal fat.
In the early days of trans fatty acid research, the researchers assumed that the trans fatty acids found in animal fats were no different than those produced by partial hydrogenation in the factory.
But studies showed that they were very wrong. Not only was the amount of natural trans fats much smaller (VA makes up about 4 percent of the fatty acids in butter, for instance), but the effect on your cell membranes was no different than without the natural trans fats. Yet all studies feeding the trans fat produced by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils showed harmful effects on cells.
There is NO Safe Level of Man-Made Trans Fats
These synthetic trans fats exist in processed foods like crackers, bakery and French fries are so toxic that even the Institute of Medicine said your intake should be “as low as possible.” They were given the opportunity to establish a “safe upper limit,” but declined to do so because, quite simply, there is none.
Trans fats are produced during a process called partial hydrogenation, during which the hydrogen atoms in liquid unsaturated fatty acids are rearranged. The end result is a completely unnatural fat that causes dysfunction and chaos in your body on a cellular level.
Trans fats have been linked to:
- Cancer: They interfere with enzymes your body uses to fight cancer.
- Diabetes: They interfere with the insulin receptors in your cell membranes.
- Decreased immune function: They reduce your immune response.
- Problems with reproduction: They interfere with enzymes needed to produce sex hormones.
- Heart disease
How do You Know Which Fats are the Healthy Ones?
There is so much information about healthy versus unhealthy fats out there, and I realize that it can be confusing. But I can sum up the difference between a healthy fat and an unhealthy one in one word: natural.
Just about every naturally occurring fat that you can think of is great for your health. This includes VA, the natural trans fats in animal products.
When choosing which dairy products and meats to include in your diet, always keep in mind these tips to live by: