Trans fats have been known to increase the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A new Japanese study has found that people with higher levels of trans fats in their blood were 50 to 75 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia than people with lower levels of trans fats in their blood.

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The study found that people with higher levels of trans fats in their blood were 50 to 75 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia years later than people with lower levels of trans fats in their blood.

The study involved 1,628 people living in a Japanese community with an average age of about 70 who did not have dementia. The level of trans fats from industrial-produced sources in the participants’ blood was measured at the beginning of the study, and they were divided into four groups based on those levels. Participants were also given a questionnaire about how often they ate certain foods.

Then they were followed for an average of 10 years. During that time, 377 people developed dementia.

Of the 407 people with the highest level of trans fats, 104 developed dementia, or an incidence rate of 29.8 per 1,000 person-years. For people with the second-highest level of trans fats, 103 of the 407 developed dementia, for an incidence rate of 27.6 per 1,000 person years. Of the 407 people with the lowest level, 82 developed dementia, an incidence rate of 21.3 per 1,000 person-years.

In 2004, Denmark was the first country to start regulating industrially-produced trans fatty acids. Today they are banned in Canada, the United States, and other jurisdictions. In the U.S. however, the Food and Drug Administration allows foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fats to be labeled as containing zero grams of trans fats. Consequently, some foods still contain partially hydrogenated oils and could continue to pose an increased risk.

Trans fats are also typically found in foods that can be hard to resist.

The researchers also looked at which foods contributed the most to high levels of trans fats in the blood. Sweet pastries were the strongest contributor, followed by margarine, candies and caramels, croissants, non-dairy creamers, ice cream and rice crackers.

Trans fats are also found in cookies, chips, baked goods, french fries, doughnuts, popcorn.

The World Health Organization has called for trans fats to be eliminated worldwide.

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Journal Reference » Neurology, October 23, 2019

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