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The Influence of Lipids on Human Health

  • Date Submitted: 12/06/2012 09:09 PM
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The Influence of Trans-fatty acids on human health.

The prevalent perception of lipids is that they not only lead to obesity, but also contribute to an increased risk of dyslipidemia (cholesterol), atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, diabetes and cancer. However, lipids are an essential dietary component vital to human health. (1) Some lipids are healthier than others, for example saturated fats are more associated with an increase in cholesterol and disease whereas mono-saturated and poly-saturated fats actually improve cholesterol levels in the blood. Omega-6 and omega-3 fats play a crucial role in growth and development as well as brain function in the human body, whereas trans fatty acids can be harmful but can also be beneficial if unsaturated. (1)

For decades, healthy living was based upon the notion of eating low-fat diets due to the publicity it received. The general population has adhered to this perception as a means to lose excess weight and to prevent or manage cardiovascular disease. (2)
Reformulation and modification of food items by major food companies took place in order to increase their marketing of products that are “fat free”, often increasing the sugar as well as salt content to compensate for compromise of flavour. (2) The type of lipid and the total calories in the diet are more important to consider in order to control weight and disease state.


Trans-fatty acids are molecules that encompass a minimum of one trans-double bond that exists between two carbon (C) atoms. (3) A trans-double bond differs from a cis double bond (commonly found in nature) in its geometrical position. The hydrogen (H2) atoms linked to the double bond are positioned on either side of the C-atom in the trans molecule, compared to the cis molecule where both H2 atoms are positioned on the same side of the C-atom. (3) Trans-fatty acids exhibit an unsaturated chemical nature, however the chemical configuration is...

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