Trans Fats And Depression

With the rates of depression rising, estimates suggest about 150 million suffer from the disease worldwide.

We're going to explore the likely connection between trans-fats and the unhealthy mind and body.
Unlike other members of the fat family saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, the trans fats, or trans-fatty acids, are largely artificial fats and there seems to be a connection. FYI a small amount of trans fats occur naturally in meat and dairy products. Most trans fats however are made by a chemical process called partial hydrogenation. Liquid vegetable oil, an otherwise healthy monounsaturated fat, is super heated, packed with hydrogen atoms and converted into a solid fat, whose characteristics more resemble plastic. This made what seemed like an ideal fat, for the food industry to work with because of its high melting point, its creamy, smooth texture and its reusability in deep-fat frying.

Partially hydrogenated fats, AKA trans fats, extend the color, and shelf life of food. Think of those buttery crackers, and popcorn, crispy french fries, crunchy fish sticks, creamy frosting and melt-in-your mouth pies and pastries. All those foods owe their qualities to trans fats. Since the 1950's packaged food purveyors have been "hell bent" on convincing us that, hydrogenated fats were a healthier alternative to saturated fats. With hundreds of millions of dollars spent in advertising, their poison. They thought using margarine was better for you than using butter, yet numerous studies now conclude that trans fats are by far worse than saturated fat's. True, over eating saturated fats could raise total and also bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. Trans fats do the same, but they also strip levels of good (HDL) cholesterol, the kind that helps unclog arteries. Trans fats also increase triglyceride levels in the blood, adding to our risk of cardiovascular, and liver disease. So basically, the more solid the fat, the more it clogs our arteries.

While total fat and saturated fat content have routinely appeared on nutrition facts labels for a number of years, the listing of trans fats is relatively new. Until their listing was made mandatory, from January 2006, we had to look for the words "partially hydrogenated" or  "hydrogenated oil"  in the list of ingredients. The nearer to the top of the list, the higher the level of trans fats. So even when the label didn't offer a trans fat listing, we could make a fair estimate of how much trans fat was lurking inside by looking at the difference between the total fat figure and the saturated and unsaturated fat figures. Obviously the new labeling requirements eliminates that guess work. Food manufacturers are simply be required to state the number of grams of trans fats per serving. Our government, who I'll once again remind you doesn't give a shit about yours, or your families health, exemplified by the tragic state of food and food information in our country. The revised FDA Dietary Guidelines, which were published in January 2005, fell short of recommending a maximum daily intake for trans fats, even though a limit of less than 2 grams or even less than 1 gram had been pursued by health groups. Instead the recommendation is to keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible. A word of warning, though: Labels can say "0 grams of Trans Fat" even if partially hydrogenated fats are listed in the ingredients, so long as a serving size contains less than 0.5g of trans fats. So guess what in our country, 0 doesn't mean 0, according to the FDA. The catch is that all those fractions of a gram add up if you eat more than a single serving.

Eating too much trans fat, long known to raise heart disease risk, can also boost your risk of depression, new research suggests. Eating a heart healthy diet with olive oil can lower the risk of depression, says researcher Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, PhD, associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Las Palmas in Las Palmas, Spain. The study included more than 12,000 people. The participants with an olive oil consumption higher than 20 grams a day (about 0.7 ounces) had a 30% lower risk of depression than those without consumption or with a very low consumption of olive oil, claims Dr.Sanchez-Villegas. Those who took in the most trans fats, however, had up to a 48% increased risk of depression. The unhealthy fats, says Dr.Sanchez-Villegas, are believed to lead to biological changes in the body linked with both heart disease and depression. The researchers evaluated 12,059 men and women, with an average age of 37. All were free of depression at the start of the study. The men and women completed a food frequency questionnaire, describing their intakes of various types of fat. After a median follow-up of 6.1 years (half were followed longer, half less) 657 new cases of depression had been diagnosed. The researchers then looked at the type and amount of fat intake to see if it played a role. It did. Those who ate a high amount of trans fat, the fat type found in fast food, industrially produced pastries, and certain whole milk products, had an increased depression risk, while those who ate the most olive oil had a lower risk than those with a low consumption of olive oil or no olive oil.

The trans-fat intake in the participants was fairly low, Dr. Sanchez-Villegas says. Those in the highest intake group took in about 1.5 grams daily, and it was in that group the researchers found the 48% increased risk of depression. In the study, both good fats and bad showed what scientists call a ''dose-response'' relationship. More consumption, more protection for olive oil and more intake, more risk for trans fatty acids, Dr. Sanchez-Villegas says. The biological changes that occur with high consumption of bad fats may explain both the heart disease and depression link, the researchers say. The ill effects of bad fats on heart disease are believed to be due to increases in LDL (bad) cholesterol and reductions in HDL (good) cholesterol. There are also inflammatory changes, and these changes have also been linked with depression, the many researchers now say. Inflammation may interfere with the brain's neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, Dr.Sanchez-Villegas says, and a lack of serotonin adversely affects mood. So there you have it trans-fats or partially hydrogenated oil cause inflammation in our organs and in our brains. Inflammation causes blockages in actual blood flow and neurotransmitter connections. One of the worst results along with heart disease, can be depression, caused by the disruption of the normal circulatory process within the body. So, once again READ your labels carefully. Good Luck...

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