A recent study suggests that trans fats may not only raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and boost your heart disease risk, but they may also affect your memory on the long-run.
Scientists found that young male participants who consumed high levels of the industrial oils had lower scores at a memory test than their peers that moderately ate trans fats.
The memory test involved recalling as many random words as one could from more than 100 memory cards. Scientists reported that every additional gram of trans fats translated into up to 21 fewer words participants were able to recall. The average score of the test was 86 words.
“It’s a pretty sizeable relationship. This adds to a body of evidence that trans fats are not something that people should be sticking in their mouth,”
Prof Beatrice Golomb, lead author of the study and preventive medicine expert at the University of California’s School of Medicine in San Diego.
Yet, though the link between trans fats and memory loss was statistically significant, researchers admitted that they hadn’t found a clear cause-and-effect relationship. But the link is there.
The study was published in PLOS One on Wednesday, a day after the F.D.A. urged the food industry to completely eliminate partially hydrogenated oils (the main source of trans fats in American diets) from their products by 2018.
The research team dubbed trans fats “anti-food” because they lack nutritional values but they wreak havoc in a person’s body especially within their cardiovascular system.
Past studies had also shown that they boost bad cholesterol levels, increase risk of stroke and heart disease, disturb hormonal balance, and boost inflammatory processes within the organism.
Prof Golomb explained that trans fats are not providing the body with nutrients to help it “function properly.” They rather deprive the human body of valuable minerals and vitamins thus subverting organ function.
The research team was inspired to start their research by chocolate studies. Those studies showed that the antioxidants in chocolate improved memory and brain functions due to anti-inflammatory properties. So, scientists were curious to learn whether trans fats, which promote inflammatory processes, were affecting memory, as well, but in a negative way.
The study involved 645 healthy male adults who were interviewed about their diet and requested to participate in a memory test. The test had 104 cards with a single word on each, so participants were asked to tell whether words were new or they recall some of them from a previous session.
On average, participants recalled 86 words, but for every extra gram of the harmful fats they had ingested daily, their memory performance slipped by 0.76 words, the research showed.
Image Source: Harvard Health Publications
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