Trans Fats Linked to Aggression—Lower DHA to Blame?
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Trans-fats are essentially unsaturated oils that have been hydrogenated so that the oil becomes solid and more stable at room temperature. Many margarines, shortenings, and processed foods are high in trans-fats. Most people know that trans-fats are unhealthy. In fact, you can now find trans-fats on the Nutrition Facts Panels of packaged foods. Keep in mind, products which contain less than 0.5 grams of trans-fats can be labeled as trans-fat free. The best way to detect them is by looking at the ingredient panel. If you see the word hydrogenated, the product contains trans-fats.
A recent study involving over 1,000 people and published in the PLoS One journal has linked the consumption of trans-fats with aggression. Interestingly, trans-fats interfere with the production of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a fat that has been associated with protection against aggressive behavior. The researchers suggest the reduction of DHA by trans-fats as a possible mechanism for the increased aggression seen in those people who consume the most trans-fats.
Other possible explanations include oxidative stress, inflammatory effects, or cell energy alterations caused by trans-fats, all linked to aggressive behavior. “We found that greater trans fatty acids were significantly associated with greater aggression, and were more consistently predictive of aggression and irritability, across the measures tested, than the other known aggression predictors that were assessed,” stated Beatrice Golomb, an author of the study.
This week, read the ingredient lists of the packaged foods you eat. If they contain partially hydrogenated oils, steer clear. This is one fat you want to completely eliminate from your diet.