Trans fatty acids – A risk factor for cardiovascular disease

Document Type



Biological and Biomedical Sciences


Trans fatty acids (TFA) are produced either by hydrogenation of unsaturated oils or by biohydrogenation
in the stomach of ruminant animals. Vanaspati ghee and margarine have high contents of TFA. A number
of studies have shown an association of TFA consumption and increased risk of cardiovascular disease
(CVD). This increased risk is because TFA increase the ratio of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. Food
and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization have come up with the
recommendation that the contents of TFA in human dietary fat should be reduced to less than 4%. There
is high prevalence of CVD in Pakistan. High consumption of vanaspati ghee which contains 14.2-34.3% of
TFA could be one of the factors for this increased burden of CVD in Pakistan. Consumption of dietary fat
low in TFA would be helpful in reducing the risk of CVD in South Asia. Denmark by banning the sale of food
items with TFA has brought down the number of deaths due to coronary heart disease by nearly 50% over a
period of 20 years. Public awareness about the adverse effects of TFA on human health would be extremely
important. Media can play a very effective role in educating the masses and advocating the policy for the
sale of only low TFA food items.
Literature sources: Google and US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health were the
sources of papers cited in this review article.


Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences