Ladies, if you are annoyed by your man’s forgetfulness, you may blame it on the microwave popcorn, chips and other such processed foods that he eats.
High consumption of dietary trans fatty acids (dTFA), commonly used in processed foods to improve taste, texture and durability, is linked to worsened memory function in men 45 years old and younger, according to a new study.
Researchers evaluated data from 1,018 men and women who were asked to complete a dietary survey and memory test involving word recall. On an average, men aged 45 and younger recalled 86 words.
However, for each additional gramme of trans fats consumed daily, performance dropped by 0.76 words.
This means 12 fewer words were recalled by young men with dTFA intake levels matching the highest observed in the study, compared to otherwise similar men consuming no trans fats.
“Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory in men during their high productivity years,” said Beatrice A Golomb, lead author and professor of medicine at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
“Trans fat consumption has previously shown adverse associations to behaviour and mood – other pillars of brain function. However, to our knowledge a relation to memory or cognition had not been shown,” she said.
After adjusting for age, exercise, education, ethnicity and mood, the link between higher dTFA and poorer memory was maintained in men 45 and younger.
The study focused predominantly on men because of a small number of women in this age group. However, including women in the analysis did not change the finding, said Golomb.
Association of dTFA to word memory was not observed in older populations. Golomb said this could be due to dietary effects showing more clearly in younger adults.
Trans fatty acids have been linked to negative effects on lipid profiles, metabolic function, insulin resistance, inflammation and cardiac and general health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, reducing dTFA consumption could prevent 10,000 to 20,000 heart attacks and 3,000 to 7,000 coronary heart disease deaths per year in the US.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently ordered food manufacturers in the US to stop using trans fats within three years.