Are you losing your memory? It could be your diet!
Did you know that the brain is about 60% fat? It makes sense that if you eat the wrong fats, your brain is going to suffer. You are what you eat. Ann-Charlotte Granholm of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston presented the results of a study which showed that trans-fats adversely affected rats' learning ability, at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.
Granholm compared rats on a high-fat diet of about 12% soybean oil with those on a high trans-fat diet, containing 10% hydrogenated fat and 2% cholesterol. Rats on the high trans-fat diet showed learning difficulties when the animals were required to remember the position of hidden platforms in a water-filled maze. The animals on the trans-fat diet learned more slowly and made more errors, particularly as the task was made harder. They were about five times worse at the task, she says, than the animals on the soybean oil diet.
The brains of the animals fed trans fats also showed signs of damage and inflammation in a region called the hippocampus, which is important for learning and memory. The hippocampus is located inside the temporal lobe of the brain.
Trans fats have been shown to double the risk of cardiovascular disease. Now, they are also associated with decreased mental performance. Do you think that the increasing rates of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and autism in our society are just a coincidence? Fetuses are exposed to trans fats during pregnancy, and as soon as the babies are born, they start eating trans fats because the trans fats from our foods end up even in the mother's milk.
What can you do about it? Read the labels! Avoid all foods with hydrogenated fats and partially hydrogenated fats.
 NewScientist.com news service
 Ratnayake WM, Chen ZY, Trans, n-3, and n-6 fatty acids in Canadian human milk. Lipids, 1996 March; 31 Suppl:S279-82. PMID: 8729134
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