A new Japanese study has found that people who have elevated levels of trans fat are 50 to 75 percent more likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was published Wednesday in the journal Neurology.
Dr. Neelum T. Aggarwal, neurologist and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, who was not part of the study, said, “This study demonstrates that there are negative ‘brain/cognitive’ outcomes, in addition to the known cardiovascular outcomes, that are related to a diet that has (a) high content of trans fats.”
Researchers looked at more than 1,600 men and women in Japan, who had no dementia. They followed them for 10 years and analyzed their diets and checked their trans fat. They also adjusted factors such as diabetes, hypertension, and smoking that could affect the dementia risk.
The researchers found that participants with increased levels of trans fats were 50 to 75 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who had the lowest levels.
Neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson, who was also not part of the study, said, “The study used blood marker levels of trans fats, rather than more traditionally used dietary questionnaires, which increases the scientific validity of the results.”
“This study is important as it builds upon prior evidence that dietary intake of trans fats can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia,” noted Dr. Isaacson.
You can find a small number of trans fats naturally in meat and dairy foods. However, it is more in processed or man-made foods that include a combination of hydrogen and liquid vegetable oils. Such foods are cheaper, last longer, and give foods a great texture and taste.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned trans fats in 2015 after several studies revealed that there is a strong connection between trans fats and elevated bad (LDL) cholesterol and reduced good (HDL) cholesterol.
The agency said artificial trans fats will increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dementia even if you consume them in smaller amounts.
Study author Dr. Toshiharu Ninomiya said, “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.”
“People at risk still need to pay careful attention to nutrition labels,” said Dr. Isaacson. “When it comes to nutrition labels, the fewer ingredients, the better! Focus on natural whole food, and minimize or avoid those that are highly processed.” “This message must be delivered in countries where the ban of trans fats has not been enacted or difficult to enforce,” added Dr. Aggarwal.