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Trans Fats Could Ruin Memory

Nov 20, 2014 05:07 PM EST

The jury may still be out on how bad certain types of fat are for your health. However, a new study has revealed that at least in the case of trans fats, they can hamper the effectiveness of a person's memory.

Not too long ago, the American Heart Association (AMA) took a stern stance against trans and saturated fats, citing evidences that a fat-heavy diet not only encourages obesity, but is terrible for heart health, spiking cholesterol and promoting the development of heart disease.

However, new studies have found evidence that the effects of fatty acid subtypes often vary from person to person, potentially even proving beneficial for some people.

In light of this, the AMA has admitted that the consensus about all the consequences of a fatty diet remains unclear. Still, trans fats, found in high concentrations in processed foods, appear to have more and more evidence mounting against them.

In a new study recently presented at the AMA's Scientific Sessions 2014 in Chicago, Ill., it was revealed that "trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory in young and middle-aged men during their working and career-building years."

That's at least according to lead author Beatrice A. Golomb, who presented the unpublished work.

"From a health standpoint, trans fat consumption has been linked to higher body weight, more aggression, and heart disease," the researcher said in a statement. Now she set out to link these arguably harmful fats with memory difficulties.

To conduct the work, Golomb and her colleagues put a group of 1,000 healthy people without heart disease, including nearly 700 men aged 20 and over, through a series of memory performance tests. From questionnaires the participants had completed about their diet, the researchers then estimated their trans fat consumption, and compared these factors to the test results.

The results showed that for men under 45 years of age, eating more trans fats was linked to notably worse performance on the word memory tests. This association was far more unclear among the female participants, but this may simply be because they were more poorly represented.

The researchers suggest that this may have to do with cell energy, in that trans fats are pro-oxidant and linked adversely to cell energy. Less energy may mean less proficiency in memory recall.

"As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people," Golomb added, expressing her concern that industrial trans fats are not taken seriously enough in an age of processed foods.

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