A Fat to Forget


Eating cakes and biscuits appears to impair memory.

Research (1.) suggests that there is relationship between consumption of dietary trans-fats and word-memory.

1018 individuals were given word recall tests that were scored and matched against the amount of trans-fats  consumed by each individual.

The results are worth remembering next time you reach for the cookie jar. Every gram of dietary trans-fats consumed per day was associated with an estimated 0.76 fewer words recalled.

Is this causation or just correlation? The researchers consider that the pro-oxidant (2.) and energetic detriments of dietary trans-fats (3.) are evidence of causation. They used triangulation (4.) with other evidence to ensure that other causal factors were not being mistakenly included. (See charts below if you are interested in the statistical data).

Trans-fats are found in many biscuits, cakes and other processed foods. They are made by pumping hydrogen into liquid vegetable oil so that the oil becomes more solid. Food manufacturers do this in order to increase the shelf life of the products and to improve flavour and texture. You will know that they are present in products if you see the words “partially hydrogenated oils” on the ingredients list.

The leader of this study, Dr Beatrice Golomb, said: “Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory, in young and middle-aged men, during their working and career building years…From a health standpoint, trans fat consumption has been linked to higher body weight, more aggression and heart disease…As I tell my patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people.” (5.)

What does this mean for our love affair with biscuits and cakes?

Well, it appears that we love them but they don’t love us. Maybe the best thing to do is to forget about eating them before they make us forget that we have eaten them…


References, Definitions & Data

 1. Beatrice Alexandra Golomb, Alexis K. Bui. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0128129. June 17, 2015. A Fat to Forget: Trans Fat Consumption and Memory.
 2. Pro-oxidants are substances that accelerate the oxidation of another substance. This process can produce free radicals which are associated with many chronic health problems such as cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, cataract, and cancer. Antioxidants prevent free radical induced tissue damage by preventing the formation of radicals, scavenging them, or by promoting their decomposition. Berries are a great source of antioxidants.
3. Ascherio A, Willett WC. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Oct;66(4 Suppl):1006S-1010S. Health effects of trans fatty acids.
4. Triangulation means using more than one method to collect data on the same topic. This is a way of assuring the validity of research through the use of a variety of methods to collect data on the same topic, which involves different types of samples as well as methods of data collection.
5. https://www.medpagetoday.com/primarycare/dietnutrition/52263.