Forget your wife’s birthday? Blame it on the Twinkies.
A new study suggests trans fats may dull men’s memories.
The University of San Diego study found that 1,000 healthy “working age” men under 45 years of age who ate higher amounts of trans fats had significantly reduced ability to recall words. The research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014 and noted on sciencedaily.com.
For the study, participants completed a dietary questionnaire to reveal their trans fat intake. To assess their memory, researchers administered a series of 104 cards showing words. Subjects then had to state whether each word was new or had already been shown on a previous card.
Men who ate more trans fats showed “notably worse” performance on the memory test, according to a release about the research from the American Heart Association. Each additional gram a day of trans fats eaten was associated with an estimated .76 fewer words remembered. For those who ate the most trans fats, this translated to an estimated 11 fewer words—a 10 percent reduction—compared to guys who ate the least trans fats.
“Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory, in young and middle-aged men, during their working and career-building years,” said Beatrice A. Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego, in the release. “From a health standpoint, trans fat consumption has been linked to higher body weight, more aggression and heart disease. As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people.”
“Foods have different effects on oxidative stress and cell energy,” Golomb said. “In a previous study, we found chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants and positively impacts cell energy, is linked to better word memory in young to middle-aged adults. In this study, we looked at whether trans fats, which are prooxidant and linked adversely to cell energy, might show the opposite effect. And they did.”
On the other hand, studies have shown omega-3s boost memory.