Eating a diet high in trans fatty acids, an ingredient found in fried foods, baked goods and other prepared meals and snacks, might be associated with negative-and even aggressive-behavior, recent research suggests.

Trans fat is made through a process called hydrogenation, which makes oil less likely to spoil and helps foods stay fresher longer. Previous research has found that these trans fatty acids raise LDL "bad" cholesterol and lower HDL "good" cholesterol, raise triglyceride (fat) levels, which can increase risk for stroke, heart disease and diabetes and promote inflammation.

Study Details

In conducting the study, researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine analyzed the diet and behavior of 945 men and women. They also considered other possible contributing factors, such as the participants' history of aggression as well as alcohol and tobacco use.

The study, published online in PLOS ONE, found that people who consumed more trans fats were more likely to demonstrate negative behaviors, such as impatience, irritability and aggression.

Study leader Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the UC San Diego department of medicine, explained that higher levels of trans fatty acids in the diet were significantly associated with greater aggression."

However, while the study uncovered an association between dietary trans fatty acids and negative behavior, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship


"If the association between trans fats and aggressive behavior proves to be causal, this adds further rationale to recommendations to avoid eating trans fats, or including them in foods provided at institutions like schools and prisons, since the detrimental effects of trans fats may extend beyond the person who consumes them to affect others," Dr. Golomb concluded.

Fats That Increase Depression Risk 48%

Trans fats increase depression risk. Recent finding: People who consumed more than 15 grams of trans fats per day increased their risk for clinical depression by 48%. The more trans fats, the higher the risk. (None of the study volunteers suffered from depression at the start of the study.) Trans fats increase inflammation, which may interfere with brain transmitters and disrupts mood.

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