Trans fats could lead to memory loss, according to a new report from the American Heart Association.

Medical researchers worked with 690 male subjects and 324 post-menopausal women, asking them to attempt to memorize a list of 104 words, and recite them back from memory. The volunteers were also quizzed about their diet and general health. Those who consumed the highest levels of trans fats remembered an average of 11 fewer words than the remainder of the study population.

Men in the study recalled an average of 86 of the 104 the words they first saw on cards.

"Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory, in young and middle-aged men, during their working and career-building years... As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people," Beatrice Golomb of the University of California-San Diego and lead author of the study, released by the American Heart Association, said.

Trans fats have been linked to increased rates of cancer and heart disease, along with high blood pressure. They are frequently sold in processed foods sold as trans fat-free, by listing the ingredient as partially hydrogenated oil, and limiting concentrations to one gram per serving or less. They are often used in the manufacture of margarine and other butter substitutes.

"Trans fats increase the shelf life of the food but reduce the shelf life of the person. They're a metabolic poison and that's not a good thing to be putting into your body. They don't provide anything the body needs," Golomb told the press.

Labeling laws requiring notification of the presence of trans-fat in food products first went into effect in the United States in 2006. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils allow manufactures to create baked goods, like cakes, that last for months without going bad.

"A quick check of Keebler products on, for instance, revealed that 42 out of about 100 products list partially hydrogenated oils among their ingredients, but were labeled as having no trans fats," Karen Weintraub wrote for USA Today.

After being shown the list of words on card, subjects in the study were asked to state whether a card being shown to them had been seen before, or was new. Performances taken using this method were statistically converted to the number of words remembered by volunteers.

Future research will examine how trans fats could affect women under the age of 45.

Previous studies revealed consumption of dark chocolate had the opposite effect of trans fats, increasing memory abilities in teens and adults.

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