SHAFAQNA – While you eat trans fat, it eats your memory.
It’s no secret that trans fats are the worst kind of fat in terms of heart disease and weight control.
Spanish researchers have also linked trans fats and saturated fats to depression. And, after the US Food and Drug Administration announced that trans fats “are not generally recognised as safe for use in food”, Australia experts said it should be banned.
Now, a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014 has found a link between trans fat and memory impairment.
Researchers looked at the eating habits of 1000 healthy men above the age of 20, and postmenopausal women to determine the effect trans fat has on memory.
Participants completed a dietary questionnaire and their memories were tested using word cards. Each participant was asked to state whether the word was new or a duplicate word that had already been presented.
Researchers found men under 45 had a reduced ability to be able to recall words, with those who consumed the highest amounts of trans fats remembering an estimated 11 fewer words. Further studies need to be conducted for women.
Lead author and professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego Beatrice Golomb 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.”
While, Time said “a study like this can’t prove cause and effect” to show why trans fataffect the memory, Golomb believes it may contribute to oxidative stress, a cell-damaging process associated with heart disease and cancer.
“Foods have different effects on oxidative stress and cell energy,” Golomb said.
“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.”
President of the American College of Cardiology Dr Patrick O’Gara told USA Today, “The study adds to the growing evidence that what we eat affects how we think.
“The supply of nutrients in blood to the brain can actually affect its function,” O’Gara said.
Similarly, Dr Joanna McMillan isn’t surprised by the results.
“We know the brain is made up primarily of fat and for a long time we’ve known about the importance of omega fats for brain health,” she said.
“So if good fats are important for brain function then it doesn’t surprise me that a bad fat is going to have a negative effect on brain function.”
Trans fats are not always labelled, but Dr McMillan said cutting back on processed foods is the best way to avoid them.
“If you are making most of your meals with fresh food and ingredients then your intake of trans fats is going to be very small, if it all.”