Trans Fat and Testosterone: One of the Worst Fats to Consume
It seems to be in general knowledge that trans-fatty-acids are extremely unhealthy and should be avoided. With that being said, most people still don’t really understand what they are, and which bodily systems they affect.
Hence, why in this article, you’ll learn about the following topics:
- What are trans fats?
- Why are trans fats unhealthy?
- Trans fat and testosterone production.
- How to avoid exposure to trans fats.
Without further introductory ramblings, let’s get started:
What are Trans Fats?
In 1901, a German chemist by the name of Wilhelm Norman, invented a way to hydrogenate cheap liquid oils, so that they become solid at room temperature.
Only a year after that, the hydrogenation process was patented, and in 1909 production of hydrogenated fats officially started.
It took only 2 years for the process of hydrogenating liquid oils into solid fats to land in the US, and in 1911 P&G acquired the hydrogenation patent and quickly started manufacturing partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil with the tradename; Crisco.
As an end result, some of the unsaturated molecules in the raw oils become fully saturated (and therefore also solid at room temperature). However, due to the demonization of saturated fat in mass-media, the hydrogenation process is often continued only to the point where the required texture is reached.
Now you might be asking yourself, what the heck has this got to do with trans fats?
The answer is everything. The hydrogenation process flips some of the molecular “carbon-carbon” bonds into “trans” bonds, effectively creating trans-fatty acids. And when the hydrogenation process is completed only to the point where the optimal texture is reached (but not full hydrogenation), high amounts of trans-fatty-acids will remain in the end product.
Bottom line: When cheap vegetable oils are hardened – or partially hardened – by the hydrogenation process, trans-fats are formed and they tend to remain in the finished product, which is now called as hydrogenated vegetable oil, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, hardened vegetable oil, partially-hardened vegetable oil, or margarine.
NOTE: Trace amounts of naturally occurring trans fatty-acids (CLA and vaccenic acid) can also be found in some natural animal-fats, but these are not to be concerned about, since research has shown that they are perfectly healthy, and don’t pose the same adverse health effects as the synthetic man-made trans fats do (study, study).
Why are Trans Fats Unhealthy?
There are plenty of reasons to consider trans fats unhealthy.
Firstly, not only do they lower the “good” HDL cholesterol, but they also increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol, and blood triglycerides (study).
Secondly, trans-fats promote systemic inflammation in the body, which is considered as the root cause of many illnesses in modern-day medicine.
Thirdly, a large American review study recently concluded that every 2% increase in energy from trans fats, was associated with a 23% increase in cardiovascular disease risk.
Even the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends that you keep your intake below <1% of daily calories. This is because trans-fatty-acids offer no known health benefits, but a whole host of harmful effects.
The good news is, that just little over a week ago, the FDA finally published a press release, ordering the complete removal of industrially produced partially-hydrogenated fats from the American diet by the year 2018. They claim to do this in order to “reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.”
Trans Fats and Testosterone Production
Sidelining the sub-heading above, there’s one more negative health effect that we can associate with trans fat consumption, and that is: lowered testosterone levels.
This is because trans fats are mainly polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and increased PUFA intake is linked to lowered testosterone levels…
…And also because trans fatty-acids tend to lower the “good” HDL cholesterol, which is a crucial building block in testosterone synthesis.
Not to mention the fact that trans fats cause systemic inflammation in the body, which increases oxidative stress, promotes cortisol release, and hammers testosterone production.
There are some studies about this too. It’s been noted that a diet high in trans fats, reduces testosterone levels and sperm quality in male rodents (study) and humans (study, study, study).
How to Avoid Trans Fats
Health-wise, it’s best to keep your industrially made trans fat consumption as low as possible, and this can be easily done by eating real food, not processed and packaged crap.
Not a big surprise to see that the biggest trans-fatty-acid sources in the modern-day diet come from the processed foods of big manufacturers. This is because partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils is cheap, it alters the structure of the oils so that they can be better used for deep frying and the like, and it increases shelf-life…
…All of the above benefits the manufacturer but harm the health of the consumer.
Here’s a shortlist of common foods filled with trans fats:
- industrial vegetable oil shortenings for baking and confections
- margarine and vegetable oil spreads
- fast-foods, especially: Burger King, McDonald’s, and KFC
- potato chips (not all, but some)
- store-bought pies and piecrust
- cookies, cakes, cake mixes, and frostings
- some brands of ice cream
- non-dairy coffee creamers
- muffins and doughnuts
- microwaveable ready-meals
NOTE: The list of trans-fat-containing foods could go on for days, since its extremely popular to use them in processed foods, due to the fact that it makes production cheaper and shelf-life longer. And even though some products are labeled as “trans-fat-free”, the FDA still allows them to contain up to 0,5 grams of the bad stuff.
Bottom line: Processed foods and fast-foods are notorious for being high in man-made trans fats. Consume real foods with real all-natural ingredients, and you don’t have to worry about them. It’s as simple as that.
Man-made trans fats are completely unnecessary for humans, they only benefit the manufacturers banking account, while simultaneously hammering the consumer’s health.
Trans fats offer nothing to the consumer but can cause cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and lowered testosterone levels. There’s simply no place for them in the human diet.
It’s great to see that even the FDA has finally wakened up to the facts, and is now banning all man-made partially hydrogenated fats from American foods by 2018.