High consumption of ‘trans fats’ — found in abundance in fast food — has been linked to up to 10% poorer memory performance in a new study.
Presented at the American Heart Association’s recent annual meeting, the research studied 1,000 healthy people without heart disease.
The scientists found that the higher men’s consumption of trans fats, the worse their memory performance.
Dr. Beatrice A. Golomb, who led the study, said:
“Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory, in young and middle-aged men, during their working and career-building years.
From a health standpoint, trans fat consumption has been linked to higher body weight, more aggression and heart disease.
As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people.”
In the memory test, people were shown 104 cards, each with a word on it.
They had to say whether each was a new word, or one they had seen before.
The results showed that for each extra gram of trans fats that men consumed each day, they recalled around one less word.
The difference in memory performance between those who ate the most trans fats and those who ate the least was 10%.
Foods that commonly contain trans fats include:
- Frozen pizza.
- Snack foods.
- Fast foods.
- Baked goods.
Dr. Golomb continued:
“Foods have different effects on oxidative stress and cell energy.
In a previous study, we found chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants and positively impacts cell energy, is linked to better word memory in young to middle-aged adults.
In this study, we looked at whether trans fats, which are pro-oxidant and linked adversely to cell energy, might show the opposite effect.
And they did.”
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Image credit: Davey Van Lienden