A new study from the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine has found a link between memory loss and the consumption of trans fatty acids, widely known as trans fats.
Artificial trans fats are chemically altered to increase the shelf life of a variety of foods, including fried foods, potato chips, donuts, frostings, margarine, and coffee creamers. Previous research has linked to heavy trans fat consumption to high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The FDA is poised to ban the use of trans fats as an ingredient, except in cases where it issues a special permit; food companies will have three years to remove trans fats from their products.
“As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Beatrice Golomb.
1,018 participants in the study underwent a memory test involving the recollection of certain words. The researchers also asked participants to complete surveys about their daily diets.
On average, men 45 years old and younger successfully recalled 86 words. However, for every gram of trans fat someone ate, the recall rate dropped by an average 0.76 words. Men who consumed no trans fats recalled 12 more words than men who consumed the most trans fats.
“Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory in men during their high productivity years,” Golomb said. “Trans fat consumption has previously shown adverse association to behavior and mood—other pillars of brain function. However, to our knowledge, a relation to memory or cognition has not been shown.”
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