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Food Nutr Res. 2008;52. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v52i0.1651. Epub 2008 Mar 12.

Ruminant and industrially produced trans fatty acids: health aspects.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Gentofte University Hospital, Denmark.


Fatty acids of trans configuration in our food come from two different sources - industrially produced partially hydrogenated fat (IP-TFA) used in frying oils, margarines, spreads, and in bakery products, and ruminant fat in dairy and meat products (RP-TFA). The first source may contain up to 60% of the fatty acids in trans form compared to the content in ruminant fat which generally does not exceed 6%. In Western Europe, including Scandinavia, the average daily intake of IP-TFA has decreased during the recent decade due to societal pressure and a legislative ban, whereas the intake of RP-TFA has remained stable.In spite of this decrease we have found that in many countries consumption >20 g of IP-TFA in a one-meal menu consisting of some popular foods is possible, even though the average intake of IP-TFA in these countries is low. Subgroups of the populations may therefore, on average, consume >5 g IP-TFA per day. This level of consumption is generally not possible for RP-TFA. A daily intake of 5 g TFA (primarily IP-TFA) is associated with a 29% increased risk of coronary heart disease. Such an association is not found for RP-TFA up to a daily intake of 4 g.The high amount of IP-TFA in popular foods, the evidence of a more harmful effect on health by IP-TFA than by RP-TFA, and the feasibility of eliminating IP-TFA from foods without side effects for the population, suggest that a selective elimination of IP-TFA from our food is a 'low hanging fruit' in the quest for a more healthy diet for subgroups of the population.


cardio-vascular disorders; health aspects; hydrogenated fats; industrial; obesity; ruminant; trans fatty acids

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