Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are Trans Fats Contributing to Infertility?

Trans fats may decrease sperm counts according to a new study out of Harvard. Rats fed a diet rich in trans fats had lower sperm counts. This isn't surprising as previous research has found that diets rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats can improve sperm count.

What are trans fats?
Trans fats are commonly found in processed foods as they are very stable, increase product shelf life and have a great flavor and texture profile. Crackers, cookies, hot chocolate mix, fried foods and many other processed food items are sources of trans fats.

The 'bad' about trans fats:
Trans fatty acids raise serum levels of LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol), reduce levels of HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol), promote inflammation, may cause endothelial dysfunction (problem in the blood vessels), and their consumption is associated with cardiovascular diseases.  There are well-publicized bans of trans fats in places like New York City. Canada has issued mandatory trans fat labeling on food products. Currently, it is suggested that Canadians do not consume more than 10 grams of trans fat a day. Yet, Dr. Bruce Holub (a popular and well respected spokesperson for healthy fat consumption in Canada and retired professor at the University of Guelph) has been lobbying for lower trans fat consumption - as low as 2 grams per day per person.

My Confession of the Day
Trans fats scare me. They're like transport trucks on the highway (if the highway was your arteries). They are big, scary...and, if they get into trouble on the highway - you're in BIG trouble! I avoid trans fats as much as I can. But, yes - I do enjoy the occassional french fry, but only as a monthly treat.

Fertility and Sterility Volume 95, Issue 5, Pages 1794-1797 “Trans–fatty acid levels in sperm are associated with sperm concentration among men from an infertility clinic” J.E. Chavarro, J. Furtado, T.L. Toth , J. Ford, M. Keller, H. Campos, R. Hauser

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