As if we didn’t already have enough reasons to avoid trans fats, we may now also have to worry about their long-term effects on the brain. You might not see as many trans fats on labels as you used to, but they’re still out there, quietly wreaking havoc on our health. They might even increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Check this out.
Trans fats used to be extremely popular—and for good reason. They’re cheap, can last a long time in a fryer and make food taste delicious. Unfortunately, they also affect cholesterol levels, increasing heart attack and stroke risks, and they may contribute to the development of diabetes.
Because trans fats are such a risk to human health, the FDA began taking measures in 2018 to ban them from most foods. However, some manufacturers may have until 2121 to stop their use completely so they're still out there, waiting for that first delicious bite.
A study recently published in the American Academy of Neurology has determined that trans fat consumption can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and some other forms of dementia. More studies will be necessary to determine specifics on the quantities or lengths of time it takes for risk rates to change, but previous studies have shown that trans fats can affect the functioning of younger brains as well, suggesting the potential for long-term damage. Given what we're learning now, avoiding trans fats may help some people avoid developing dementia altogether.
The best way to avoid trans fats is to steer clear of certain processed and fried foods. The ban on these fats has reduced the amounts overall, but they’re still in the process of being phased out and, therefore, could still be hiding in some of our favorite foods—which is why we stress looking out for them specifically.
It’s important to be proactive. Check labels carefully, avoid shortening or other products that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and make sure your favorite restaurants don’t use them in their fryers or pastries.
Trans fats could be far more dangerous than any of us previously realized. And of course, we know they're hard to quit. They're tasty! But is it better to have a tasty treat today or a well-functioning brain throughout a long life? Protect your body and your mind by steering clear of trans fats altogether. You could be sparing yourself a terrifying and uncertain future.