It’s been pounded into our heads that trans fats are bad, bad, bad -and in most cases, that is true. There is no value in the hydrogenates vegetable oils packed into junk food like cookies and chips. But emerging research suggests we can’t lump all trans fats together, that some may actually be good for us. In fact, certain trans fats may help reduce the risk of diabetes.
According to researchers with Harvard School of Public Health, trans fats naturally occurring in dairy products could put you at a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And with more than 8% of the U.S. population diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, this comes as welcome news indeed.
In their latest study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists analyzed information from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), which investigated cardiovascular risk factors in nearly 7,000 US adults.
Looking at circulating blood levels of trans-palmitoleate, the researchers were able to determine that the consumption of palmitoleic acid or trans-palmitoleate was associated with a lowered risk of diabetes, as well as lower triglycerides.
As reported by GreenMedInfo, palmitoleic acid is found almost exclusively in dairy and mean trans fats. It’s not linked to an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease—unlike the trans fats we’ve been taught to avoid, those in hydrogenated vegetable pols.
Palmitoleic acid is good for your heart and even has anti-microbial properties.
In the study, participants with the highest levels of this beneficial trans fats did have 6.4% higher LDL cholesterol, but also triglycerides that were 19% lower and fasting insulin levels 9% lower. Further, their systolic blood pressure was 2.4 points lower after the five year study period.
The researchers concluded:
“Circulating trans-palmitoleate is associated with higher LDL cholesterol but also with lower triglycerides, fasting insulin, blood pressure, and incident diabetes in a multiethnic US cohort. Our findings support the need for further experimental and dietary intervention studies that target circulating trans-palmitoleate.”
But this isn’t the first study with such positive findings. In previous research, Harvard scientists found higher levels of trans-palmitoleate had lower inflammatory markers, lower insulin sensitivity and levels, and healthier cholesterol levels.
In summary, when avoiding trans fats, be aware that there are trans fats that may be beneficial. If you eat animal products, those found in dairy and meat could help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Oh, and remember to go full-fat, organic, and grass-fed (beef).