Though trans fats can give foods a desirable taste, they offer little to no health benefits. In general, they are typically associated with heart problems caused by high levels of cholesterol in your body.
You may be shocked to learn that trans fats don’t just have a negative impact on the heart. If men eat too much of these fats, they can experience a decline in their memory too.
While trans fats are naturally found in meat and dairy products, they are mostly contained in processed foods, often to give cakes, biscuits and fast foods a longer shelf life. It’s usually the industrially manufactured trans fats that you need to watch out for because they increase the level of bad cholesterol in your blood.
According to a new study, researchers discovered that men who ate the highest amount of trans fats achieved lower marks on memory tests. Professor of Medicine at the University of California-San Diego, Beatrice A. Golumb, PhD, and her fellow colleagues researched a group of 700 men aged over 20.
All the men included had no current or previous history of a heart condition. The participants took part in multiple assessments to determine how good their memories were. Each of them was shown a sequence of 104 cards that had different words on them. For each card they were shown, they had to answer whether the word was new or one they’d been shown before.
The findings revealed each additional gram of trans fat eaten daily was linked to an estimated 0.76 fewer words remembered on the cards.
The group of study participants with the worst performance was men aged under 45. The researchers then included postmenopausal women and repeated their analysis. Interestingly, they found the same results, which suggests that men are not the only ones affected.
Since you can never use these kinds of studies to categorically prove whether one thing causes another, it’s difficult to say that men scored lower on the memory tests due to eating too many trans fats.
While the researchers took other facts into consideration, such as the men’s ages, levels of education and whether they performed any regular exercise, they may easily have missed out on other influential factors.
To reverse the possible memory effects caused by trans fats, you need to eat a healthier diet and cut out as much saturated fat from your diet as possible.
As Doctor Martha Daviglus, professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, stated: “we are living more and more years, so of course we want to maintain our memory and thinking.”
Fortunately, over the last few years, the UK food industry has decided to lower the amount of trans fats used in food. The British Heart Foundation has long been calling for a series of measures to remove the use of trans fats across the UK. They have done this by requesting many food manufacturers to stop using trans fats, though it is equally as important not to replace them with saturated fats.
If global food manufacturers work to clearly label their packaging, this will go a long way towards helping people make informed choices about what to eat.