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Research Projects

Trans Fats Project

Trans Fats Project

Comparative Study re Fatty Acids: 40 SA margarine brands (April 2010)

CANSA has become concerned with margarines since it was found over the past few years that they could contain trans fatty acids which were associated with cancer.

A comparative study of the fatty acid composition of forty South African brands of margarines was done recently and the results were published on 19th April 2010.

In the light of these results CANSA considers it to be reasonable to recognise that Blossom Canola margarines are a smart choice in that they help to reduce the risk of cancer.

Download the Comparative study on fatty acids in margarines to read the results of the study and read the news release here.  Watch the Carte Blanche Medical insert regarding butter versus margarines.

The dangers of trans fatty acids

Man-made trans-fats, also referred to as Industrially Processed-Trans Fatty Acids (IP-TFAs), have been identified by scientists worldwide to be one of the major factors contributing towards the global pandemic of lifestyle related chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, obesity and breast and prostate cancers.

What are trans fats?

Trans fats, or trans fatty acids, are made inadvertently when plant oils are converted to margarine. In the 1990s, scientists realised that trans fats increased the risk of coronary artery disease.

Fact sheet on trans fats

How are you exposed to trans fats?

You can ingest trans fats in many margarines and a lot of baked and fried goods.

How to avoid trans fats

Buy margarines that contain less than 2% trans fats and have omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratios ranging from 2.2 to 44.3. Peer-reviewed literature suggests that a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio of about 2.0 could help to counteract inflammation and have anti-cancer effects.

South African legislation to ban trans fats has been written and has been published, but it has not been made law yet.

CANSA’s findings

Forty South African margarines were analysed by the CSIR for fatty acids and it was found that all had less than 2% trans fats and omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratios from 2.2 to 44.3.

Only two margarines had low ratios of about 2.0, for example, Blossom Canola and Blossom Canola Light.  Download the Comparative study on fatty acids in margarines.

In the light of these results CANSA considers it to be reasonable to recognise that Blossom Canola margarines are a smart choice in that they help to reduce the risk of cancer.

The Department of Health is in the process of developing legislation aimed at the reduction of certain trans-fats, in particular trans fatty acids deriving from the process of partial hydrogenation of vegetable oil, present in certain processed and prepared foods currently for sale in South Africa.

The Department of Health conducted a workshop on 22 October 2009. The purpose of the workshop was to provide an opportunity for inputs on the way forward and representatives of the industry, bodies dealing with lifestyle related diseases, such as CANSA, as well as academic and research institutions involved in the promotion of healthy nutrition, were invited to participate.

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  • Click here to make a secure online donation to support this research project or make a direct deposit to ABSA Bank, Account: CANSA Research, number: 4079965964, Branch: 632005, Reference: Type B Research – Trans Fats project.
  • Read more about CANSA research here.


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