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  1.   In the 20th century, the vegetable oil industry had a great impact on human nutrition. Vegetable oil is a good and accessible source of unsaturated fatty acids, having up to 80% of oleic and linoleic acids combined,[1] which are vital for health. Through the development of a chemical process called ‘hydrogenation of fatty acids’ in the early 20th century, the food industry found a way to expand the application of vegetable oils. The process allowed to obtain cheap margarine products that could be used in several different foods to provide attractive qualities, such as distinctive flavour, crispness, plasticity, creaminess etc.[2] In nature, unsaturated fatty acids are normally found in cis-fat form (see the steric arrangement of hydrogen bonds in the picture below), and only up to 2-8% of them occur naturally in trans-fat form due to bacterial fermentation in dairy products and ruminants’ meat.[3] The unsaturated fatty acids that contain double bonds in trans-fat form are called trans-fatty acids.[2] Hydrogenation is the chemical process that allows to convert unsaturated fatty acids into saturated ones by means of heating, nickel catalyst and hydrogen. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to achieve 100% hydrogenation, and in this case, trans-fatty acids are formed as a by-product along with saturated fatty acids.[2] Although the causative link between trans fats and coronary artery disease was first published in the 1950s, it took several decades of research to understand and subsequently tackle the problem.[4] It was later found that trans fats cause an increase in LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and a decrease in HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol),[5] leading to an increased risk of heart attacks.[6] The consumption of margarine, one of the most common sources of industrially produced hydrogenated fats, was found to increase the body’s natural cholesterol levels in the blood.[7] Trans fats also increase other blood lipid profiles (such as lipoprotein(a) and triglycerides), which can lead to increased cardiovascular risks.[8]  In previous researches comparing the health effects of various fatty acids – namely saturated fatty acids (SFA), monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and trans-fatty acids (TFA) – both SFA and TFA have been found to increase cardiovascular risks, resulting in the proposal of specific policies to reduce their consumption by 1 and 7 percent of daily energy intake, respectively.[9] However, more recent studies have shown that only TFA intake is associated with all-cause mortality, while, with methodological limitations, there was mixed evidence to prove that SFA have similar negative health effects.[10]  Many studies have proved the dangers of TFA produced from hydrogenation of vegetable oils, but what about TFA intake from consuming ruminants and dairy products?[11] Researchers have shown that these naturally occurring TFA can hardly pose health risks as their levels are generally low,[3][11][12] but further research is needed.[13] For this reason, we can safely assert that the biggest health risk lies with TFA found in processed, hydrogenated-fat food, rather than the naturally occurring TFA.  The risks associated with TFA are a significant problem acknowledged by many countries. The US Food and Drug Administration has recently announced that a ban on hydrogenated fat use for processed food production will enter into force in June 2018.[14] While possible actions are still under discussion in the European Union, the European Food Safety Authority encourages consumers to opt instead for less processed food products containing less TFA. “TFA” is currently labelled on a voluntary basis only in the European Union, while it is mandatory in the USA.[15] It is anticipated that the European Food Safety Authority will soon provide the updated tolerable limits of TFA to label processed foods accordingly. Heart disease is one of the major causes of death in Europe and worldwide, and TFA are recognised as one of the factors leading to it. Other suggested negative health outcomes of excessive TFA intake include Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer.[16][17] The general biochemical mechanism of these health effects is not yet properly understood; however, it is thought that the human body lacks lipase enzymes that are able to metabolise this artificial fatty acid, and that trans fats also impair the metabolism of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids.[18] Even though trans-fats intake declined in recent years, governments do not do their best to protect the public from TFA exposure. For this reason, food industry manufacturers are not motivated to replace harmful ingredients that provide appealing food qualities (like creaminess and crispness) at low prices with more expensive alternatives. Until TFA are banned, it is strongly recommended to avoid processed foods and consume high-fat dairy products in moderation.    [1] Orsavova, J., Misurcova, L., Ambrozova, J., Vicha, R., & Mlcek, J. (2015). Fatty Acids Composition of Vegetable Oils and Its Contribution to Dietary Energy Intake and Dependence of Cardiovascular Mortality on Dietary Intake of Fatty Acids. International Journal Of Molecular Sciences, 16(6), 12871-12890.  [2] Jang, E., Jung, M., & Min, D. (2005). Hydrogenation for Low Trans and High Conjugated Fatty Acids. Comprehensive Reviews In Food Science And Food Safety, 4(1), 22-30. [3] Lindmark Månsson, H. (2008). Fatty acids in bovine milk fat. Food & Nutrition Research, 52(1), 1821. [4] Lichtenstein, A. (2014). Dietary Trans Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: Past and Present. Current Atherosclerosis Reports, 16(8). [5] Brouwer, I., Wanders, A., & Katan, M. (2010). Effect of Animal and Industrial Trans Fatty Acids on HDL and LDL Cholesterol Levels in Humans – A Quantitative Review. Plos ONE, 5(3), e9434. [6] Nestel, P. (2014). Trans Fatty Acids: Are Its Cardiovascular Risks Fully Appreciated?. Clinical Therapeutics, 36(3), 315-321. [7] Liska, D., Cook, C., Wang, D., Gaine, P., & Baer, D. (2016). Trans fatty acids and cholesterol levels: An evidence map of the available science. Food And Chemical Toxicology, 98, 269-281. [8] Ooi, E., Watts, G., Ng, T., & Barrett, P. (2015). Effect of Dietary Fatty Acids on Human Lipoprotein Metabolism: A Comprehensive Update. Nutrients, 7(6), 4416-4425. [9] Hammad, S., Pu, S., & Jones, P. (2015). Current Evidence Supporting the Link Between Dietary Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease. Lipids, 51(5), 507-517. [10] de Souza, R., Mente, A., Maroleanu, A., Cozma, A., Ha, V., & Kishibe, T. et al. (2015). Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMJ, h3978. [11] Da Silva, M., Julien, P., Pérusse, L., Vohl, M., & Rudkowska, I. (2015). Natural Rumen-Derived trans Fatty Acids Are Associated with Metabolic Markers of Cardiac Health. Lipids, 50(9), 873-882. [12] Mozaffarian, D., Aro, A., & Willett, W. (2009). Health effects of trans-fatty acids: experimental and observational evidence. European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 63, S5-S21. [13] Gebauer, S., Chardigny, J., Jakobsen, M., Lamarche, B., Lock, A., Proctor, S., & Baer, D. (2011). Effects of Ruminant trans Fatty Acids on Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: A Comprehensive Review of Epidemiological, Clinical, and Mechanistic Studies. Advances In Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 2(4), 332-354. [14] FDA Cuts Trans Fat in Processed Foods. (2017). Retrieved 23 July 2017, from [15] Trans fats (TFA) - Food Safety - European Commission. (2017). Food Safety. Retrieved 23 July 2017, from [16] Morris, M., Evans, D., Bienias, J., Tangney, C., Bennett, D., & Aggarwal, N. et al. (2003). Dietary Fats and the Risk of Incident Alzheimer Disease. Archives Of Neurology, 60(2), 194. [17] Dhaka, V., Gulia, N., Ahlawat, K., & Khatkar, B. (2011). Trans fats—sources, health risks and alternative approach - A review. Journal Of Food Science And Technology, 48(5), 534-541. [18] Calder, P. (2015). Functional Roles of Fatty Acids and Their Effects on Human Health. Journal Of Parenteral And Enteral Nutrition, 39(1_suppl), 18S-32S.