Nutrients and Lifestyle Approaches for a Healthy Brain
Dietary Trans Fats: What Babies Can Tell Us About Why To Avoid It

Dietary Trans Fats: What Babies Can Tell Us About Why To Avoid It

In honor of this week’s 50th Anniversary of the La Leche League at their conference in Chicago, I have found an interesting article on Omega-3 fatty acids, trans fats, and the cord blood of newborn babies. Pregnant or not, woman or not, a study of the cord blood of newborn babies is important for our health.

The La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding recommends to breastfeeding moms that they reduce their intake of trans fats. I certainly tried. Most of us have gotten the memo that we need to stop baking with shortening. New York has even banned trans fats from the city. But even with all of these messages about trans fats in our diets, it is difficult to pass on the French fries when we just have some vague idea that trans fats are unhealthy.

Dietary trans fats are associated with cardiovascular disease and cancer. In the case of heart disease, trans fats affect cholesterol not only by raising bad cholesterol, but also by lowering good cholesterol. Ouch. They also affect our metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids – Omega-3s and Omega-6s. That is what the cord blood and the breast milk studies tell us.

Researchers examined the cord blood of newborn babies and found a strong inverse relationship between trans fat and polyunsaturated fat in the cord blood. What this means is that in babies with high levels of trans fats in their cord blood, they likely had low levels of Omega-3s and Omega-6s. Babies with high levels of Omega-3s and Omega-6s also likely had low levels of trans fats.

Researchers speculate that the dietary trans fats may actually inhibit the metabolism of Omega-3 fatty acids. If that is the case, trans fats may be far more sinister than a lot of us French fry eaters presume. Not only do the trans fats displace other fats we could be eating that could actually be healthy, but they may work even harder to reduce the positive health effects of the good oils that we are eating.

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