Washington: If you can't resist a burger, you are in trouble as a new study has shown that too much of junk food can destroy your memory, especially of young to middle-aged men.

The research by University of California, San Diego, which is the first to produce clear results on memory impairment, studied around 1,000 healthy men, those who consumed the most trans fats, found in foods like high-fat cakes, pastries, chips and fast foods, showed notably worse performance on a word memory test. The strength of the association remained even after taking into consideration things like age, education, ethnicity and depression.

Lead author Dr Beatrice Golomb studied adults who had not been diagnosed with heart disease, including men aged 20 or older and postmenopausal women. Participants completed a dietary questionnaire, from which the researchers estimated participants' trans fat consumption. To assess memory, researchers presented participants with a series of 104 cards showing words. Participants had to state whether each word was new or a word duplicated from a prior card.

Golomb said that foods have different effects on oxidative stress and cell energy, and they looked at whether trans fats, which have been prooxidant and linked adversely to cell energy, might show the opposite effect. And they did.

Oxidative stress has been associated with the development of diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Industrial trans fats are artificially produced to turn liquid oils into solids at room temperature and extend food shelf life. They can be found in margarines, fast foods, baked goods, snack foods, frozen pizza, coffee creamers and some refrigerated doughs. The Food and Drug Administration is taking further steps to reduce the amount of artificial trans fats in the U.S. food supply.

The study is presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014.

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