Drop That Doughnut — It May Save Your Memory. High trans fatconsumption may lead to memory decline in young and middle aged men.
Having trouble remembering things lately? Maybe you're eating too many trans fats. Found in many fast foods, trans fats are already known to be bad for the heart. But they may harm your memory as well.
New research found that some young to middle-aged men who ate a diet high in trans fats had various health issues, including memory problems.
Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego, conducted the study with Alexis K. Bui, BS.
“From a health standpoint, trans fats consumption has been linked to higher body weight, more aggression and heart disease,” Dr. Golomb said in a press release.
“As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people.”
These researchers analyzed data on about 1,000 healthy men. They assessed the patients' trans fats consumption from data the patients provided on dietary surveys. They assessed memory with a test based on remembering words.
In the memory test, the researchers showed the patients 104 cards with words printed on them. The patients had to indicate whether they were seeing the word for the first time or they had seen it on a prior card.
Men younger than 45 who ate more trans fats performed worse on the word memory test. These study authors estimated that every additional gram of trans fats consumed resulted in about 0.76 fewer words recalled.
Patients who ate the most trans fats recalled 11 fewer words in the test than those who ate the least trans fats.
Margarine, snack foods, coffee creamers, some refrigerated doughs, frozen pizza and baked goods like doughnuts can be loaded with trans fats. These fats pack a double-whammy when it comes to cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic. They've been found to raise "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and lower "good" cholesterol(HDL).
The study authors pointed out that trans fats can have a negative effect on cell energy. Trans fats are “prooxidant.” That means they create oxidative stress, which can damage cells and tissues. Oxidative stress is thought to contribute to heart disease and cancer.
Foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as chocolate, may have the opposite effect — they may boost memory. In a past study, Dr. Golomb tied chocolate consumption to better word memory in young to middle-aged adults. Antioxidants, on the other hand, can reduce oxidative stress.