Dietary trans fatty acids: review of recent human studies and food industry responses

Lipids. 2006 Nov;41(11):967-92. doi: 10.1007/s11745-006-5049-y.


Dietary trans FA at sufficiently high levels have been found to increase low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol and decrease high density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol (and thus to increase the ratio of LDL-cholesterol/HDL-cholesterol) compared with diets high in cis monounsaturated FA or PUFA. The dietary levels of trans FA at which these effects are easily measured are around 4% of energy or higher to increase LDL-cholesterol and around 5 to 6% of energy or higher to decrease HDL-cholesterol, compared with essentially trans-free control diets. Very limited data at lower levels of intake (less than 4% of energy) are available. Most health professional organizations and some governments now recommend reduced consumption of foods containing trans FA, and effective January 1, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires the labeling of the amounts of trans FA per serving in packaged foods. In response, the food industry is working on ways to eliminate or greatly reduce trans FA in food products. Current efforts focus on four technological options: (i) modification of the hydrogenation process, (ii) use of interesterification, (iii) use of fractions high in solids from natural oils, and (iv) use of trait-enhanced oils. Challenges to the food industry in replacing trans FA in foods are to develop formulation options that provide equivalent functionality, are economically feasible, and do not greatly increase saturated FA content.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / adverse effects
  • Food Industry*
  • Food Supply* / standards
  • Humans
  • Trans Fatty Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Trans Fatty Acids / adverse effects
  • Trans Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • United States


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Trans Fatty Acids