New research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Session 2014 shows that high trans fat consumption is associated with worse memory among working-age men. 

Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, lead author and professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego, and colleagues looked at adults who had not been diagnosed with heart disease, including men aged ≥20 years and postmenopausal women. Study participants filled out a dietary questionnaire, from which the researchers estimated the amount of trans fat consumed. Memory was evaluated through a series of 104 cards, where participants had to recall whether each word was new or duplicated from an earlier card. 

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Study results showed that among men aged <45 years, higher trans fat consumption was linked to a worse performance on the word memory test. This association was still sustained even after adjusting for factors such as age, education, ethnicity, and depression. Also, each additional gram of trans fats consumed a day was linked to approximately 0.76 fewer words correctly recalled. Participants consuming the highest amount of trans fats had a >10% reduction in words remembered vs. adults who consumed the least trans fats. 

Trans fats can be found in margarine, fast foods, baked goods, snack foods, frozen pizza, coffee creamers, and some refrigerated doughs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working to decrease the amount of artificial trans fats in the food supply.

Dr. Golomb stated that analyses in younger women are needed to see if these effects impact this demographic. 

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