Although trans fats are the new bad boys of the nutritional and cardiovascular worlds, they don’t seem to have any effect on insulin resistance in lab rats.
So, tentatively, they can be ruled out as a contributing factor to the development of type 2 diabetes. That is the conclusion of a team of researchers at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, Food and Human Nutrition.
The researchers gave rats an eight-week diet enriched with either industrial trans fats (processed oils), natural trans fats (dairy) or unsaturated fats. They were interested in resolving conflicting data about the contribution of trans fats to insulin resistance. Previous studies had indicated that consumption of trans fats reduces the ability of muscles to turn the fats into energy, thus promoting insulin resistance.
But the French study showed no changes in the insulin or glucose responses among the rats eating diets heavy with trans fats. Nor did the trans fats affect the rats’ muscle capacity.
The study concluded that while trans fats may present other health issues, muscles can use them efficiently for energy, with no build-up that could lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.