Eating trans fat weakens memory in younger men, study says

Trans fats, the use of which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration limited last month, are associated with reduced memory function in men 45 and younger, says a University of California San Diego School of Medicine study published in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers asked 1,018 men and women to fill out a dietary survey and take a word-recall memory test. Men 45 and younger remembered an average of 86 words, but for each additional gram of trans fats eaten daily, memory dropped by 0.76 words. Compared to the men who didn’t consume trans fats, those in the study who consumed the most recalled 12 fewer words.

“Trans fats were mostly strongly linked to worse memory in men during their high-productivity years,” said Beatrice A. Golomb, lead author and professor of medicine at UCSD. “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.”

Other research has shown that trans fatty acid consumption is linked to negative effects on lipid profile, metabolic function, insulin resistance, inflammation and cardiac and general health. “As I tell patients: While trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people,” Golomb said.

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