Men in middle age who eat an excessive amount of trans-fat may be at risk for memory loss later in life, according to a new study. Researchers followed 1,000 healthy men under 45, monitoring their trans-fat intake, and found those who consumed the most did worse on a word recall test. The highest trans-fat eaters took in about 15 grams per day.
“People were presented with a series of cards with words on them, and they had to decide if they were repeats, or newly-presented words,” says Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, the lead researcher. “Each additional gram of trans fat consumed per day was associated with .76 fewer words recalled.” That may not sound like a lot, however, those that were the highest trans-fat eaters in the study took in around 15 grams, which would be associated with 11 to 12 fewer words recalled, or a 10 percent drop, said Golomb.
The researchers believe the loss of memory is due to trans- fats’ effect on cells, which can reduce blood flow to the most important parts of the brain. “I put things you eat into two categories: Foods and anti-foods,” Golomb says. “Foods are the things that support the health and function of cells, and anti-foods adversely affect that. Trans-fats fall into that anti-food category.”