According to UC San Francisco researchers, who conducted a study on a group of 1,000 healthy men eating abundant portions of trans fats, those consuming so much fat would perform poorly on word recall tests.
According to Beatrice Golomb, research leader, test subjects had to decide of there were repeats among a series of cards containing words.
“Each additional gram of trans fat consumed per day was associated with .76 fewer words recalled.”
Dr. Golomb said.
.76 isn’t all that much, you would reason, however, you would err. The highest trans-fat eaters are the ones consuming over 15 grams daily and precisely therein lies the problem.
“That would be associated with 11 to 12 fewer words recalled,”
Golomb said, noting that a 10% drop is significant by anyone’s standards.
Although scientists haven’t figured out precisely how trans fats affect memory, they have a theory based on fats’ effect on cells and on how they reduce blood flow to essential parts of the brain.
The research team’s work was presented in Chicago at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting.
“I put things you eat into two categories: Foods and anti-foods. Foods are the things that support the health and function of cells, and anti-foods adversely affect that. Trans fats fall into that anti-food category.”
Dr. Golomb has been actively pursuing the field of memory and during research, she has found that chocolate, for instance, improves word recall. Another particularly negative aspect of trans fats is that they were shown to influence mood and behavior, causing aggressiveness and depression.
On the other hand, Dr. Ralph Sacco, chairman of the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami, explains that these results aren’t surprising given the well known connection between cardiovascular illness and brain health.
“We see here that diet early in life, before the middle-age years, can have a major impact on brain function even before we routinely think it is dangerous.”
Golomb’s suggestion is that people begin reading labels as they contain information about food containing hidden trans fats such as margarine, shortening or hydrogenated fats.
“The American Heart Association has already taken such a strong stance to eliminate trans fats from the diet, mainly to eliminate cardiovascular disease. Now we see trans fats can be [harmful] for brain health as well.”