Role of trans fatty acids in health and challenges to their reduction in Indian foods.Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008; 17 Suppl 1:212-5AP
Evidence indicates that dietary trans fatty acids (TFA) obtained from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO) increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Studies have implicated TFA in increasing the risk and incidence of diabetes. Furthermore, TFA may compromise fetal and early infant growth and development. In rats, partial substitution of either linoleic acid (18:2 n-6) with saturated fatty acids (SFA, 6 en %) or SFA with TFA (3 en % from vanaspati) decreased peripheral insulin sensitivity, but these effects were greater in TFA group. Since a large proportion of Indian population is insulin resistant, the TFA content in Indian edible fats/oils and foods should be reduced. Vanaspati (PHVO) provides up to 40% TFA, is used in Indian cooking and in the preparation of commercially fried, processed, bakery, ready-to-eat and street foods. TFA in biscuits and sweets range 30-40 and 6-26% of total fatty acids respectively. There is no regulation on TFA content in vanaspati, bakery fats and shortenings. Reduction in Indian edible fats/ oils and foods can be achieved by: a) specifying limits of TFA in vanaspati, bakery fats and shortenings by upgrading technology; b) advocating the substitution of natural plant oils containing lower percent of polyunsaturated fatty acids for PHVO. Indian edible oil industry needs to develop and adopt alternative technologies to produce zero TFA. Consumer education about negative health effects of TFA and providing food based guidelines to reduce TFA consumption in the entire population need to be actively pursued.