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   Oct 24

Eating lots of trans fats found in fried food, cakes and biscuits ‘could put you at greater risk of getting dementia’

  • Trans fats are often used to make cakes, biscuits, margarine and fried food 
  • A team of Japanese researchers have now linked these fats to dementia
  • Evidence suggests trans fats may cause harmful inflammation, the team says

Fatty acids found in baked goods and takeaways may put people at greater risk of dementia.

Trans fats, which are used to make cakes, biscuits, margarine and fried food, are not banned in the UK, although they are not commonly used.

Japanese researchers have now linked these fats to dementia, in a study of more than 1,600 people over 60.

Estimating people’s consumption of trans fats using blood tests, they found those with the highest levels in their body were 52 per cent more likely to get dementia.

Evidence suggests trans fats may cause harmful inflammation and the build-up of a protein called amyloid, which are both linked to dementia.

The findings, published in the journal Neurology, come three years after the Government scrapped a proposed ban on trans fats in its watered-down child obesity strategy of 2016.

Scientists said the previous year that a ban on the fats, which come from partially hydrogenated plant oils, could save 7,200 lives in England from coronary heart disease over five years.

Dr Toshiharu Ninomiya, senior author of the Japanese study, from Kyushu University in Japan, said: ‘The World Health Organisation has called for trans fats to be eliminated worldwide by 2023.

‘These public health efforts have the potential to help prevent dementia cases around the world, not to mention the decrease in heart disease and other conditions related to trans fats.’ While trans fats occur naturally in dairy products like cheese and cream, they are also found in takeaways where vegetable oils have been heated to fry foods at high temperatures.

The fats can improve the taste and shelf life of processed foods and are also used by some manufacturers in pies, biscuits and cakes.

Although they were banned in the US last year, they continue to be present in British food, although health experts say UK intakes are much lower than the recommended maximum.

The Japanese study involved 1,628 people living in a Japanese community who did not have dementia and had an average age of 70.

They were divided into four groups based on levels of elaidic acid in their blood, which is often used to measure the amount of trans fats people have consumed.

Followed up for 10 years on average, people with the group thought to consume the most trans fats were 52 per cent more likely to get dementia than those who consumed the least.

Of the 407 people with the highest level, 104 developed Alzheimer’s disease or a different type of dementia, which was almost 30 per cent.

Only 82 out of the 407 in the lowest level group were diagnosed with dementia, which was just over 21 per cent.

The results showed a link between trans fats and dementia even when other factors that could affect the risk of dementia, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking, were taken into account.

People with the second highest level of trans fats, based on their blood tests, were 74 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those with the lowest level.


Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide

Source: Daily Mail

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