According to a group of Canadian scientists, ruminant animals like cattle, goats and sheep produce a type of natural trans-fat that, unlike its industrial counterpart, is actually beneficial to our health.
“We are learning there is a very important public health message to convey about ruminant natural trans-fats that have been targeted as harmful to health,” explains University of Alberta’s Director of the Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases Laboratory, Dr. Spencer Proctor.
“The research indicates that consuming these natural trans-fats as part of a balanced diet is not a health concern. On the contrary, there is increasing evidence these are ‘good fats’ and could be fundamentally health-enhancing. They should not be an unintended target of the bid to rid the diet of trans-fats.”
The research team explained that the new information is based on numerous studies involving both animals and humans.
Jean-Michel Chardigny, who also researched the animal-produced trans-fat, said: “Our knowledge of natural trans-fats is relatively recent and we will continue to learn more about the human health implications.” He added, “But clearly we know they are different from industrial trans-fats and should not be painted with the same brush.”
In a meta-analysis of 13 human studies, Chardigny found that while industrial trans-fats may have a negative effect on health, there is currently no information that suggests similar issues with the natural substance.
“There is no association between natural trans-fats intake and cholesterol-dependent cardiovascular risk factors,” he said. “The findings indicate that intake of natural trans-fats is not associated with coronary heart disease within the range of intake in the general population.”