by Tim Fang

(CBS SF) — As the Food and Drug Administration requires food companies to phase out trans-fats, a new study from University of California researchers finds the fats linked to heart disease could also be linked to worsening memory function in men 45 years old and under.

Scientists at UC San Diego surveyed 1,018 men and women on their diet. The subjects also took part in a memory test using word recall.

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Researchers said the men 45 and under recalled 86 words on average, but their performance dropped by 0.76 words for each additional gram of trans fats they consumed daily. Compared to those who didn’t consume trans fats, those who consumed the most trans fats recalled 12 fewer words on the test.

The effect was not found among older populations in the survey.

“Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory in men during their high productivity years,” Dr. Beatrice A. Golomb, the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

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Earlier this week, the FDA ordered food companies to phase out trans fats over the next three years, calling them a threat to public health.

The fats are often used in processed food and in restaurants to improve texture, shelf life or the flavor of foods.

“As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people,” said Golomb.

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The study appears in Wednesday’s edition of the journal PLOS One.