Trans Fatty Acids in Food and Their Influence on Human Health

Sebastjan Filip1, Rok Fink2, Janez Hribar1 and Rajko Vidrih1*

Department of Food Science and Technology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Jamnikarjeva 101, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

2Department of Sanitary Engineering, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Zdravstvena pot 5, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Article history:

Received February 25, 2009
Accepted December 10, 2009

Key words:

trans fatty acids, human nutrition, human health, hydrogenated fats


Hydrogenated oils tend to have a higher trans fatty acid (TFA) content than oils that do not contain hydrogenated fats. Prospective epidemiological and case-control studies support a major role of TFAs in the risk of cardiovascular disease. In the partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which is the major source of TFAs worldwide, the main isomer is trans-10 C18:1. In the European countries with the highest TFA intake (the Netherlands and Norway), consumption of partially hydrogenated fish oils was common until the mid-1990s, after which they were omitted from the dietary fat intake. These partially hydrogenated fish oils included a variety of very long-chain TFAs. Recent findings from Asian countries (India and Iran) have indicated a very high intake of TFAs from partially hydrogenated soybean oil (4 % of energy). Thus TFAs appear to be a particular problem in developing countries, where soybean oil is used. In 2003, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a final ruling that required food manufacturers to list the TFAs in their foods on the nutritional facts label. One way to produce 'zero' levels of TFAs is the trans-esterification reaction between vegetable oils and solid fatty acids, like C8:0, C12:0, C14:0 and C16:0.


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