Systematic Review

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2011) 65, 773–783; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.34; published online 23 March 2011

Consumption of industrial and ruminant trans fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies

N T Bendsen1, R Christensen2, E M Bartels2 and A Astrup1

  1. 1Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark
  2. 2The Parker Institute, Musculoskeletal Statistics Unit, Copenhagen University Hospital, Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark

Correspondence: Dr A Astrup, Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 30, DK-1958 Frederiksberg, Denmark. E-mail:

Received 10 September 2010; Revised 11 February 2011; Accepted 15 February 2011; Published online 23 March 2011.



The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to summarize the evidence from observational studies assessing the association between intake of trans fatty acids (TFA) and the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), with a specific emphasis on distinguishing between TFA of industrial and ruminant origin. By searching five bibliographic databases, analyses from six published and two unpublished prospective cohort studies, assessing the association of intake of TFA with fatal and/or non-fatal CHD, were identified. Four and three studies reported separate associations for intake of ruminant or industrial-TFA, respectively. The pooled relative risk estimates for comparison of extreme quintiles of total-TFA intake (corresponding to intake increments ranging from 2.8 to ~10g/day) were 1.22 (95% confidence interval: 1.08–1.38; P=0.002) for CHD events and 1.24 (1.07–1.43; P=0.003) for fatal CHD. Ruminant-TFA intake (increments ranging from 0.5 to 1.9g/day) was not significantly associated with risk of CHD (risk ratio (RR)=0.92 (0.76–1.11); P=0.36), and neither was industrial-TFA intake, although there was a trend towards a positive association (RR=1.21 (0.97–1.50); P=0.09). In conclusion, our analysis suggests that industrial-TFA may be positively related to CHD, whereas ruminant-TFA is not, but the limited number of available studies prohibits any firm conclusions concerning whether the source of TFA is important. The null association of ruminant-TFA with CHD risk may be due to lower intake levels.


trans fatty acids; systematic review; meta-analysis; coronary heart disease; cohort studies

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