High Trans Fat Content Intake Linked To Brain Shrinkage

Research studies have found a link between high trans fat intake and brain shrinking.

People who consume foods with high trans fat concentration found in fast foods such as french fries and the all common hamburger are more likely to experience brain shrinkage, the types that are associated with Alzheimer's disease.

The study conducted in 1989, led by Dr. Gene Bowman, at the Department of Neurology of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, involving 104 individuals, ages ranging from 65 and above. All participants were generally healthy people, with only a few smokers, diabetics, and high blood cholesterol patients.

The participants were given a series of psychological tests and 42 had MRI scans of their brains as well. The team wanted to study three things: total brain volume, cognitive function and white matter changes which were believed to cause small vessel disease.

Among their key findings:

1. Although they cannot fully explain it, vitamins B, C, E, and D seem to contribute to the total volume and cognitive function of the brain. People who had low scores on these vitamins had lesser brain volume compared to those who scored high.

2. Participants who had high concentrations of trans fat in their blood had lesser total brain volume. They also had poorer memory ( inability to recall ), attention span, language and processing speed skills.

3. Participants who had higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids had greater cognitive functions as well as lesser white matter lesions on the brain scans compared to those who had less.

Trans fats are commonly found in animal products but are most likely hidden in cakes, pastries, fries, and frozen foods. Trans fatty acids increase inflammation of the arteries, which makes arteries harder and narrower, increasing the risk of contracting cardiovascular problems.

"Trans fats are known to be bad for cardiovascular heatlh," Bowman said. "It makes sense that they're also bad for the brain." He added.

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