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Food For Thought - Trans Fats May Increase Risk of Alzheimer's

Eating poorly doesn't just have an effect on your weight and heart health. A recent study from researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University suggests that diets high in trans fats may be associated with Alzheimer's disease.

The research was published online ahead of print on December 28, 2011, in the journal Neurology.

Participants in the study included 104 healthy adults with an average age of 87, few known risk factors for Alzheimer's, and no prior history of the disease.

The researchers measured the blood nutrient levels of the participants and found that those with high levels of trans fats had lower performance rates on memory and thinking tests. Conversely, participants with higher levels of vitamins B, C, D and E had higher performance rates on the same tests.

The researchers also conducted brain scans of 42 of the participants and noted that higher vitamin levels were associated with larger brain sizes. High trans fat levels were linked with brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer's.

Trans fats occur naturally in small amounts, particularly in dairy and meats, but are primarily found in processed foods. Former studies have linked trans fats to higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and various risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

If you want to cut back the amount of trans fats in your diet, limit your consumption of processed foods and junk foods.

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