A new study has revealed that dietary trans fatty acids (dTFA) is linked with impairment of memory function. The findings have been published online, on PLOSONE.
dTFA (also known as trans fats) is commonly used in processed foods with the aim to enhancing taste and texture, as well as to make the food last longer. Health experts have always spoken against its consumption. Now, a new study has further shown its harmful nature: men 45 years of age and younger who consumed dTFA in high amounts were found to have worsened memory function.
A group of 1,018 men and women were made to respond to a dietary survey and to undertake a memory test whereby they had to recall words. Those men who were 45 years old or younger could recall an average of 86 words. However, their performance decreased by 0.76 words for each extra gram of trans fats consumed on a daily basis. Moreover, the young men with the highest recorded dTFA consumption remembered 12 fewer words than those who did not include dTFA in their diets.
The study results entailed mostly men because of the small number of women participants falling in the age group.
“Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory in men during their high productivity years,” said Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, lead author and professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Trans fat consumption has previously shown adverse associations to behaviour and mood — other pillars of brain function. However, to our knowledge a relation to memory or cognition had not been shown.”
Also, memory and dTFA showed no association in older age groups. Professor Golomb suggested that this might be the case because younger adults display dietary effects more clearly. Furthermore, memory scores vary with age.
It seems that while trans fats are added to increase durability in foods, they might be doing the opposite in humans.
“As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people,” said Golomb.