Posted on 01-30-2012
Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Another name for trans fats is "partially hydrogenated oils." Look for them on the ingredient list on food packages.
Emerging evidence relates some nutritional factors to depression risk. The following study comes from The Public Library of Science in 2011 and found some interesting things. They artificially introduced trans fats into the Mediterranean population who are known for staying away from these fats and consume more of the healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
Their objective was to evaluate the association between fatty acid intake or the use of culinary fats and depression incidence in a Mediterranean population.
This study of 12,059 Spanish university graduates (mean age: 37.5 years) initially free of depression. At baseline, a 136- item validated food frequency questionnaire was used to estimate the intake of fatty acids. During follow-up participants were classified as incident cases of depression if they reported a new clinical diagnosis of depression by a physician and/or initiated the use of antidepressant drugs.
They concluded that a detrimental relationship was found between (trans fatty acid) TFA intake and depression risk. These findings suggest that cardiovascular disease and depression may share some common nutritional determinants related to subtypes of fat intake.
KEY POINTS FROM THESE AUTHORS:
1) Depression affects about 151 million people worldwide and is the main cause of disability in middle and high-income countries.
2) "Epidemiological evidence is accruing in recent years to support a relationship between improved nutrition and better mental health."
3) The rising "incidence of depressive disorders have been paralleled by a dramatic change in the sources of fat in the Western diet. This change mainly consists in the replacement of polyunsaturated (PUFA) or monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) by saturated fats (SFA) and trans-unsaturated fats (TFA)."
4) "Western'' food pattern (rich in SFA and TFA and common in Northern Europe and USA) has been reported as a relevant risk factor for depression.
5) A higher adherence to the Mediterranean food pattern (rich in legumes, fruits, vegetables, fish and cereals, but low in meat and dairy products) was found to be inversely associated with the risk of depression.
6) "Saturated fats and, specially, trans fats are known risk factors for CVD."
7) A substantial 48% increase in depression risk was found with the highest intake of trans fats. [Key Point]
8) Butter consumption seemed to be associated with an increased risk of depression; olive oil consumption was inversely associated with depression.
9) "A direct potentially harmful association of trans fats intake with the risk of depression was found in this Mediterranean cohort."
10) "Low-grade inflammatory status is frequently present among depressive patients."
11) Pro-inflammatory cytokines interfere with neurotransmitter metabolism, decrease plasma tryptophan level [a precursor to serotonin], and inhibit Brain- Derived-Neurotrophic-Factor (BDNF) expression. "BDNF is a peptide critical for axonal growth, neuronal survival, and synaptic plasticity and function."
12) "Our findings suggest that trans fats intake, a well known risk factor for CVD, might have also a detrimental effect on depression. Depression and CVD seem to share some common mechanisms leading to similar biological changes."
13) "Some detrimental biological modifications caused by TFA with respect to CVD risk could also be responsible for a harmful effect of TFA on depression risk."
14) "In spite of the low absolute average intake of TFA in this cohort (TFA contributed only for a very small percentage of total energy, approximately only 0.4%) a substantial relative increment (48%) in depression risk was found for the highest category of intake. So, the repercussion of these results might be really important in other settings such as the American population where TFA intake is by far higher (up to 2.5% of total energy intake) and in which the main sources of TFA are artificial foods."
15) Oxidative stress [free radical damage] is associated with depression.
16) Olive oil may reduce depression through several proposed mechanisms:
A)) It is anti-inflammatory which improves the function of the endothelium.
B)) The antioxidant actions of the extra virgin olive oil component tyrosol restores the intracellular antioxidant defenses, which are decreased in depressive patients.
C)) Olive oil compounds help bind serotonin to its receptors.
WHAT I WANT YOU TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS:
You should not consume trans fats: they are bad for your heart and brain.
You should consume extra virgin olive oil: it has a rich array of antioxidants, it is good for both your heart and brain. Only cook with coconut oil as it really is the only one that does not turn trans when significantly heated.
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