Dementia - What You Need to Know

Trans fats linked with higher Alzheimer’s risk, study says

If you want to keep your memory intact, a new report suggests avoiding trans fats. 

Researchers from Japan recently conducted a study, published in the Neurology journal, to explore the associations between dementia and trans fats.

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Trans fats, or trans fatty acids, are artificial fats “created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid,” according to the American Heart Association. While meat and dairy naturally contain a small amount of trans fats, they are often used in fried foods, coffee creamers, cookies, crackers and other processed foods to make them taste better and last longer. Trans fats are known to raise your bad cholesterol levels and lower your good cholesterol levels.

To better understand how trans fats affect brain health, the team in Japan examined more than 1,600 adults without dementia for about 10 years. They tracked the participants’ diets and evaluated their trans fat levels from blood tests.

After analyzing the results, they found people with high levels of trans fats were more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease later in life. In fact, those with the highest levels of trans fat were 52% more likely to develop dementia, compared to the lowest group. Those with the second highest levels of trans fats were 74% more likely to develop dementia, compared to the lowest group.

“These results give us even more reason to avoid trans fats,” study author Toshiharu Ninomiya said in a statement. “In the United States, the small amounts still allowed in foods can really add up if people eat multiple servings of these foods, and trans fats are still allowed in many other countries.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned trans fats in 2015 due to extensive research that connected it to the increase of bad cholesterol. Also, the World Health Organization has called for trans fats to be eliminated worldwide by 2023.

“These public health efforts have the potential to help prevent dementia cases around the world, not to mention the decrease in heart disease and other conditions related to trans fats,” Ninomiya said.

Want to learn more about the findings? Take a look at the full report here

» RELATED: Alzheimer’s grows sharply in Georgia — and faster than national average

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