(Reuters Health Summary)
In women with a history of heart disease, eating too many foods with artery-clogging trans fats can significantly increase their risk of suddenly dying of cardiac arrest.
Trans fats (man-made during food processing, to make fats solid at room temperature) act in almost the same way as saturated fats (found in nature) in the human body. Both types of fats accumulate in the arteries, resulting in the production of fatty plaques, which increase the risk of heart disease, including heart attacks, and stroke. In addition, trans fats increase the levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol and decrease levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol, which further exacerbate the problem.
According to a new study published in November's issue of the American Heart Journal, in nearly 87,000 U.S. women, increased consumption of trans fats did not increase the risk of sudden death from cardiac arrest, on the whole. In women with a history of heart disease, however, there was a significant increase in the incidence of sudden death from cardiac arrest. Of those women, the ones who ate the most trans fats -- typically getting 2.5 percent of their daily calories from the fats -- were three times more likely to die of cardiac arrest than those who ate the least.
With so much evidence that consuming Trans- and saturated fats is bad for our health, it's remarkable that they are still consumed today in such large numbers. It's best to avoid these unhealthy fats whenever possible and consume more heart-healthy fats from olive oil, almonds and walnuts, avocadoes, and seeds instead.
Check out more about this study in the article "For some women, trans fats could be deadly" from Reuters Health (Dec. 2, 2009).