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High Trans-Fat Diet May Impede Word Memory

High Trans-Fat Diet May Impede Word Memory

Dietary trans fatty acids (dTFA) are commonly used in processed foods to improve taste, texture, and durability. New research suggests high consumption of the trans fats harms memory function in men 45 years old and younger.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine evaluated data from 1,018 men and women who were asked to complete a dietary survey and memory test involving word recall.

Their study findings have been published online in the journal PLOS ONE.

They discovered that, on average, men aged 45 and younger recalled 86 words; however, for each additional gram of trans fats consumed daily, performance dropped by 0.76 words.

This translates to an expected 12 fewer words recalled by young men with dTFA intake levels matching the highest observed in the study, compared to otherwise similar men consuming no trans fats.

“Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory in men during their high productivity years,” said Beatrice A. Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and professor of medicine at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

“Trans fat consumption has previously shown adverse associations to behavior and mood — other pillars of brain function. However, to our knowledge a relation to memory or cognition had not been shown.”

After adjusting for age, exercise, education, ethnicity and mood, the link between higher dTFA and poorer memory was maintained in men 45 and younger.

The study focused predominantly on men because of a small number of women in this age group. However, including women in the analysis did not change the finding, said Golomb.

However a correlation between high dTFA intake and word memory decline was not observed in older populations. Golomb said this is likely due to dietary effects showing more clearly in younger adults. Insults and injuries to the brain accrue with age and add variability to memory scores that can swamp ability to detect diet effects.

Trans fatty acids have been linked to negative effects on lipid profiles, metabolic function, insulin resistance, inflammation and cardiac and general health.

In 2013, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a preliminary determination that trans fats were no longer generally recognized as safe. According to the Centers for Disease Control, reducing dTFA consumption could prevent 10,000 to 20,000 heart attacks and 3,000 to 7,000 coronary heart disease deaths per year in the U.S.

“As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people,” said Golomb.

Source: University of California, San Diego/EurekAlert

High Trans-Fat Diet May Impede Word Memory

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). High Trans-Fat Diet May Impede Word Memory. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 17, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2015/06/19/high-trans-fat-diet-may-impede-word-memory/85876.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.