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Do doughnuts make you cranky? Perhaps. New research shows that, in addition to increasing inflammation and lowering good cholesterol, eating trans fats in processed foods may increase aggression, irritability and impatience.

In a study at the University of California–San Diego School of Medicine, researchers found that greater trans-fatty-acid intake was associated with increased aggression in individuals regardless of age, ethnicity or gender.

The research, led by associate professor Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, and published in the journal PLoS ONE, provides the first evidence that trans fats may have a detrimental effect beyond physical health.

While more study needs to be done to understand the exact connection, researchers suspect that trans fats may limit the body’s ability to produce certain healthy fats that have been linked to a more agreeable disposition.

The best way to reduce trans-fat intake is to restrict or not consume processed, deep-fried and fast foods. When opting for prepackaged fare, read labels closely, avoiding anything that includes the word “hydrogenated.”

Eating fewer trans fats, says Golomb, “may improve health, reduce hospitalizations and deaths from heart disease, and . . . improve mood and curb adverse interpersonal behaviors.”

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