July 25, 2024

Trans Fat Consumption is Linked to Diminished Memory

According to a study by the American Heart Association, trans fat consumption is linked to diminished memory in working-aged men. The American Heart Association Meeting Report Abstract 15572 states that in a study of about 1,000 healthy men, those who consumed the most trans fats showed “notably worse performance on a word memory test.”

Food LabelThe strength of this association remained even after the study results were adjusted for age, education, ethnicity, and depression. Dr. Beatrice A. Golomb, lead author of the study and professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego said in a statement, “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.”

The study found that each additional gram a day of trans fats consumed was associated with estimated 0.76 fewer words correctly recalled. For those eating the highest amounts of trans fats, this meant about 11 fewer words remembered out of 86, compared to adults who ate the least trans fat.

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.”

Trans fats are artificial ingredients made when hydrogen is passed through liquid fats such as polyunsaturated oils. The hydrogen molecules bond to the carbon molecules at the double bonds in the fat, twisting them. This renders the fat solid at room temperature. Trans fats are cheaper to use than butter, and are more shelf-stable, so manufacturers use them in products such as baked goods, snack foods, coffee creamers, and refrigerated doughs. The FDA is taking steps to reduce the amount of trans fats in the U.S. food supply.

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