The influence of trans fatty acids on health: a report from the Danish Nutrition Council

Clin Sci (Lond). 1995 Apr;88(4):375-92. doi: 10.1042/cs0880375.


Trans fatty acids constitute 0-30% of the fat in Danish margarines, most in industry and bakery margarines and usually less in table margarine. The trans fatty acids make margarines more solid at room temperature and therefore provide an economical storage advantage. In British and U.S. reports from 1984-1989, the trans fatty acids were more or less acquitted of unhealthy effects. During the last 5-6 years, however, a series of new studies has been published regarding both the connection between the consumption of trans fatty acids and the occurrence of coronary heart disease and the impact on the lipoprotein level in plasma. Studies suggest that the consumption of trans fatty acids from margarine is equally, or perhaps more, responsible for the development of arteriosclerosis than saturated fatty acids. In addition, it is now clear that both the fetus and the breast-fed baby are exposed to trans fatty acids in relation to the mother's consumption. A couple of recent studies suggest a possible restrictive influence of the trans fatty acids on the weight of the fetus. The average consumption of trans fatty acids from margarine in Denmark in 1991 was approximately 2.5 g/day per person. For about 150,000 adult Danes, the consumption is assumed to be more than 5 g/day per person. On this basis, the Danish Nutrition Council recommend that the consumption of trans fatty acids is reduced as much as possible. This can be done by reducing the fat content in food and by reducing the trans fatty acid content in all Danish margarine products to 5% or less. Thereafter, the group of adult Danes, including pregnant and breast-feeding women, with a large consumption of margarine and margarine-containing products, will on average only consume 2 g of vegetable trans fatty acids/day. This corresponds to the consumption in the low-risk groups in the above-mentioned epidemiological studies. In addition, the Danish Nutrition Council encourage the producers of margarines to make products that can be marketed as 'free of trans fatty acids'.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Denmark
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / adverse effects*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Milk, Human
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Stereoisomerism
  • United States


  • Fatty Acids