That may be the next topic of conversation at your local coffee shop. Not only does junk food such as donuts, cookies and other trans fatty foods rot your teeth and add inches to your curves, but now researchers have discovered that it also hurts your brain.
The average donut has 15 to 28 grams of fat and as much as 480 calories. The also have hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil as well as dangerous emulsifiers such as soy lecithin.
By consuming trans fats, found often in fried or processed food, the chemicals send mixed and damaging signals to the brain and lessens its ability to control appetite.
Essentially, by eating junk food, your brain becomes less and less able to tell what you have eaten and continues to make you fee as if you are hungry so that you proceed to eat more.
'It's clear that trans fats are bad -- both for your heart and now, we see, for your brain,' Dr Gene Bowman of Oregon Health & Science University told Huffington Post.
Trans Fats Are Worse Than Saturated Fats
When choosing between a thick juicy steak and a heaping plate of French fries, the meat just might be the healthier option.
One study measured the effect of trans fat, found in fried foods and processed foods such as cookies, crackers and pastries, and of saturated fat, found in meat, butter and some dairy products, on blood vessel function and cholesterol levels.
Researchers fed 29 healthy, nonsmoking adults two different diets. The "Trans-diet" contained 9.2% of total calories from trans fat and the "Sat-diet" diet contained the same proportion of calories from saturated fat. Individuals followed the diets for 4 weeks, and then switched to the other diet for 4 weeks.
Dr. Nicole M. de Roos, of Wageningen University, and her colleagues studied participants' blood vessel function by measuring how readily the vessels dilated in response to blood flow. Relatively poor dilation is a marker of heart disease risk.
According to the results, the trans-fat diet reduced this blood vessel function by 29% and lowered HDL (''good'')-cholesterol levels by about one fifth, compared with the saturated-fat diet.
The researchers concluded that trans fatty acids indeed increase the risk of heart disease more than the intake of saturated fats.
de Roos said that companies manufacturing foods such as doughnuts and cookies should report how much trans fat is found in the item on the label. Additionally, restaurants could use liquid vegetable oils, which do not contain much trans fat, rather than solid ''hydrogenated'' fats to fry foods. Hydrogenated fats are oils that undergo a process to make them solid at room temperature.
Silently Lurking in Foods
A number of popular pastries, fried foods, and other products may contain more fat than you think, largely because "trans fat" does not have to be listed on their food labels
Products list the amount of total fat and saturated fat, but do not necessarily include the amount of trans fat, according to the Washington, DC-based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
For example, one brand of chicken pot pie has a label that says it contains 8 grams of saturated fat per serving, but a laboratory analysis revealed the product also has 6.5 grams of trans fat. However, companies are not required to disclose the amount of trans fat and this particular product gave no indication of the amount of trans fat it contained, according to the CSPI.
"If you want to avoid trans fat, there's no way to do it, because it's not required by food labels," Dr. Margo G. Wootan of CSPI told Reuters Health.
According to the FDA, including the amount of trans fat on food labels could save between 2,100 and 5,600 people from dying prematurely, most likely as a result of company's modifying their products so that the labels would report less trans fat, Wootan said.
"To be able to save 15 lives a day from listing something on a food label, it seems (manufacturers) should act as quickly as possible, so people who want to reduce their risk of heart disease can," Wootan noted.
In the meantime, for consumers who want to limit their intake of trans fats, Wootan recommended they opt for foods that are relatively low-fat in general, which tend to contain fewer saturated and trans fats.
The Battle Against Trans Fats Is Not a New One
Given the somewhat complicated nature of trans fats, it is harder for shoppers to spot goods that contain loads of the molecule. Trans fat is the common name for unsaturated fats which are harder for the body to digest given its double carbon-carbon bond.
Brain injury comes as the latest addition to a long list of health problems that stem from the consumption of unsaturated fat. Coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes.
While restaurants in New York and Switzerland have been banned from serving dishes that have high levels of trans fats, there are still plenty of everyday foods that are stealthily hiding the destructive ingredients.
Girl Scout cookies, microwavable popcorn, and crackers- like Saltines and Ritz- are some of the worst offenders, and that's ignoring the obvious choices like French fries or fried chicken.
Though Mr Bowman conducted a relatively limited study among elderly white Oregonians, his findings have been backed up by countless earlier studies that highlight the difference between the yummy taste and disgusting after-effects of junk food.